CDR Endorses the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act of 2020

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Dara Baldwin

The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act of 2020 is a federal bill introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) & Rep. Ayana Pressley (D-MA) 

Center for Disability Rights (CDR)  joined a number of civil and human rights groups as well as teachers’ unions to endorse Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) and Rep. Ayana Pressley’s (D-MA) bill titled The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act of 2020 but we also assisted with creating the language. The bill is also introduced with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)

The over policing of our society includes our education system. There has been a growing concern for the lives of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) who are youth and in school every day with the strict, discriminatory, harmful and often deadly force of police, law enforcement and school resource officers (SROs).

Research has proven that over criminalization exists in our schools. It also has shown that those students harmed and/or killed by police in schools are more often BIPOC and even more so students with disabilities who identify as BIPOC. CDR worked with both Sen. Murphy and Rep. Pressley’s staff on the language for this comprehensive and strong bill that addresses removing policing from schools therefore ending criminalization. Then replacing police with counselors, nurses, social workers and other healthcare providers with skills and expertise for working with marginalized students. This would be done through federal funding streams and create a safe school for all students.

From Rep. Ayana Pressley’s announcement:

The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds on police in schools and instead provide resources to school districts to support the hiring of counselors, nurses, social workers and other health care providers – critical personnel with the training and professional expertise n serving vulnerable students. Improving educational outcomes and keeping schools safe.

“Every student should be able to learn in a setting free from fear,” said Congresswoman Pressley.

To read the full announcement go here:

Activists have been working for centuries to end the police killings and over criminalization for Black people and this includes Black children and youth. School is supposed to be the safest place for a student. It is where they are to thrive, meet friends, create life time memories as well as learn. Students with disabilities encounter multiple barriers to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as afforded to them by law. These barriers should not exist, especially coming in contact with police in school.  But unfortunately, being in contact with police in schools and being over criminalized are a part of why many students with disabilities are excluded from school or experience psychological, emotional and physical harm and in some instances they are killed. 

CDR works to end hate and create equity for all students and in particular students with disabilities. We remain committed to this work and will continue to work in collaboration with the civil and human rights organizations and unions who support these bills (H.R. 7848/S. 4360) to get is passed in Congress.

Thank you to Sen. Murphy and Rep. Pressley as well as their staff for the work on this imperative legislation.

To read the Bill text go here:

To read One Pager go here:

For more information on this work please contact Dara Baldwin, Director of National Policy at