Skip to content

LETTER: Greater Victoria schools need more counsellors, not police

Parents and community members rally at Spectrum Community School to reinstate the school liaison officer program. (Black Press Media file photo)

I write in response to the article titled “Council calls for reinstatement of school police liaisons in SD 61” in the Saanich News.

In this article, Coun. Colin Plant is quoted as saying, “I have never heard a parent, a student, a staff member, a community member say that they didn’t want to see police in schools.”

As a member of this community, this quote is deeply concerning to me. Stating that you have never heard a community member say they didn’t want police in schools deliberately ignores the community calls that led to the human rights commissioner’s recommendation in November 2022.

Commissioner Kasari Govender’s letter highlighted that marginalized students, their families and communities raised significant concerns about harm caused by police presence in schools. It is not unreasonable for school boards to respond to the needs of the community by discontinuing the liaison program, nor is it unreasonable to ask school boards to evaluate the need for the program and the issues the program is attempting to mitigate.

Developing a fulsome understanding of the issues and risks allows school boards to innovate new ways to support students without causing undue harm to marginalized groups. For example, utilizing other means to support students, such as counsellors, would have greater benefit and mitigate risk more effectively.

As a member of the community, I do not want police in schools. I would not have wanted police in my school when I was younger. I would not have had the ability to develop, learn and grow without the support of school counsellors.

It was unfair for Coun. Plant to say he’s never heard calls to end police liaison programs in Saanich schools.

Our young people deserve better.

Meagan Marsh