JCPS students, parents protest against SROs outside of school board meeting
The protest started after a disruption during the meeting, which was later called off
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public Schools students, parents and other community members gathered outside Central High School Tuesday evening to protest against having armed resource officers in schools.
The crowd gathered outside after the auditorium was cleared as a woman speaking about her child catching COVID at school was interrupted during public comment. One or two people were escorted out of the room for the interruption; several minutes later, the entire room was cleared and the meeting appeared to end.
(Story continues below video)
By 7:30 p.m., the school board officially canceled the meeting, citing law enforcement advice as the basis for their decision.
Outside, and before the meeting was formally called off, protesters on megaphones spoke out about why they didn’t feel comfortable having armed officers inside schools.
“If I could die outside of school because of guns, what makes you think I want to be around guns inside of school?” one child, a JCPS student, said.
“We need to listen to the kids first, the kids who are going into these school buildings for, how many, 100-something days?” student Emily Pabon said. “I suggest we focus on changing and creating effective ways to discipline these students before adding a cop into the mix.”
“How are they going to go to school and learn when they’re scared for their lives?” student Demontez Shepard said. “You can’t learn when you have fear in your body. It’s scientifically proven.”
The school board protest came two weeks after three JCPS students in Russell were shot waiting for the school bus in the early morning. 16-year-old Eastern High School student Tyree Smith died after being rushed to the hospital.
Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Erika Shields expressed concern about JCPS’ lack of school resource officers after the deadly shooting, saying the district needs its own police force.
Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said it would not have been possible to prevent the shooting with school officers because it was a drive-by incident not on school grounds and a reflection of the rising violent crime facing juveniles in Louisville.
JCPS Board of Education member Dr. Chris Kolb described what happened Tuesday evening outside of Central High School as “chaos” caused primarily by Shields, Metro Council President David James and two other Metro Council members for failing to act on Louisville’s crime problem.
“The person primarily responsible for the chaos at the JCPSKY board meeting tonight is LMPD Chief Erika Shields, though Councilpersons David James, Anthony Piagentini, and Marcus Winkler are also to blame,” Kolb said in a statement. “These four have tried to use Tyree Smith’s horrific death about police in schools, which is a distraction from their own responsibility for public safety and a distraction from steps needed to actually reduce violence, which JCPS has been actively taking for several years. Because of these four people, the school board could not conduct vital business tonight, including taking steps related to COVID-19 which is an urgent matter of public safety.”
The JCPS Board of Education meeting has been rescheduled for Oct. 7 without a public comment section.
Copyright 2021 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.