LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A group of Fayette County Public School students rallied outside the old school board building Wednesday to call on the district to reduce the number of officers in schools.
Bryan Station senior Benajmin Shapere said that officers in schools do not make students feel safer. Shapere is also a member of the group Counselors over Cops.
"It's kind of like they're an occupying entity in our schools," Shapere said.
Instead, Shapere recommended that schools put more resources into counseling and mental health services.
While Shapere is set to graduate Thursday, he wants younger students to have a different experience than he had.
"I want them to have a more welcoming school environment than I received," he said.
Counselors over Cops shared their list of six demands for the district:
- Reduce the number of police officers to one officer per school.
- Limit the role police officers play in schools.
- Invest money in mental health supports and after-school programs that lead to positive long-term outcomes.
- Hire a lobbyist to work on repealing the provision of the School Safety and Resiliency Act that requires one armed officer per school.
- Release any and all records and data related to interactions between students and police officers in the district.
- Review and revise the 10-Point Safety Plan.
FCPS representatives could not be reached Wednesday evening but the district has responded to similar concerns recently.
In a lengthy response to a report from the Lexington NAACP and the Grassroots Law Project, FCPS said the district spends millions more each year on mental health and student support services than it does on law enforcement.
Since 2018, the district has hired 57 new mental health professionals and 27 officers, according to the statement. Fayette County Schools officers also receive implicit bias and mental health training, the statement reads.
Counselors over Cops students said they plan to continue to call for change until their voices are heard.
"We're just beginning," Shapere said.