We, as alumni/ae of Hazleton Area High School (HAHS), stand in solidarity with current HAHS students against the excessive policing of their high school experience.
Recently, a video of security guards using excessive force with a student surfaced online. We, as alumni/ae, are appalled to see an authority figure using violence against a student like this at our high school. While this was extreme, this instance illustrates a broader pattern where students are being criminalized at HAHS. All Students should be treated with dignity and respect. We want students at HAHS to feel safe – but this type of action has no place in an education institution. This is immoral and unjust, and we believe the officers involved should be accountable for their actions.
We also recognize that students of color are more likely to be affected by these excessive disciplinary and security practices and acknowledge the role this plays in the continued disproportionate incarceration of people of color in our country. HAHS students should leave HAHS with degrees, not records.
We are also appalled by the silence from the school’s leadership in regard to the incident, as well as the discussion of racial undertones that led to the altercation. Silence in a situation like this is sides with the oppressor. Coupled with the documented statement that “there are two sides to the story” by Superintendent Brian Uplinger, it is clear that those in power in the school district are upholding a principle of white supremacy that has given way to the mass incarceration of minorities across the United States. This is a worrying pattern to see in a town where many people of color, most of whom are Afro-Latinx, reside; these people fall into both demographics that are among the most disproportionately targeted groups by police in this country.
We call on Superintendent Uplinger and School District Chief Ed Harry to suspend the security guards and police officers involved and to have an immediate evaluation of their de-escalation practices. We also call for longer term evaluation of their security practices that empower students to learn, not putting them into the school-to-prison pipeline.
If you sign the below letter,a. your name will appear in the letter to the intended senders;b. you may receive updates about a response to the letter.
We encourage you to send this letter to anyone else you believe would be interested in signing this. We will be collecting signatures until Feb 12 at 5 pm EST.