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Alexandria leaders say police needed for safe schools, after visit by Attorney General Miyares

(Left to right) ACPS Interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt, Mayor Justin Wilson, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, ACHS senior Elizabeth Lane and School Board Chair Jacinta Greene at the high school, Nov. 7, 2022 (via Twitter)

After a back-and-forth with city leadership on school safety, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares got a quick tour of Alexandria City High School from the city’s leaders on Monday (Nov. 7).

Miyares toured the school, met with students and city leaders, ate lunch and discussed school safety.

In a joint statement released Monday night, Mayor Justin Wilson and School Board Vice Chair Jacinta Greene said that the health of the school system depends on its relationship with the police department.

“We agree on the importance of students being able to grow and thrive in a safe learning environment and assured him of the close partnership between our school division, Alexandria Police Department and other agencies that promote the well-being of children,” Wilson and Greene wrote.

The meeting was also attended by City Manager Jim Parajon, Police Chief Don Hayes, ACPS Interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt and ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas.

Wilson added, “We thank Attorney General Miyares and his team for their visit and for his offer of any help or support from his office for the City of Alexandria and Alexandria City Public Schools.”

Miyares, in August, wrote a letter to Mayor Justin Wilson and School Board Chair Meagan Aldterton saying that he was alarmed by reports of violence within the school system last year. In his letter, he urged Alexandria to work closely with law enforcement to strengthen the city’s School Resource Officer (SRO) program.

ACPS began the 2021-2022 school year without school resource officers, after they were defunded by the City Council. They were returned after an alarming number of incidents with weapons in schools.

There were 46 students arrested and 68 injured last school year, and 194 incidents that provoked a police response, according to a new safety report detailing arrest and security incidents.

After the meeting, Miyares released the following statement:

As the proud product of public schools, I’m particularly passionate about making sure that every public school student not only has access to a quality education, but a safe environment to learn. I’d like to thank Alexandria Mayor Wilson, School Board Chair Alderton and the ACPS officials who invited and welcomed me today.

Today’s meeting was productive and I was able to share some concerns, as well as offer the resources of the Office of Attorney General to support them. Alexandria City High School has amazing students, and I was honored to meet some of them today. I look forward to working together with the Alexandria City officials to make sure parents feel confident that their children will be safe at school. As Attorney General, every Virginia family’s safety is my number one priority.

This Thursday, the School Board will vote on a recommendation extending the ACPS agreement with the Alexandria Police Department to provide SROs until the end of this school year. In December, the School Board will also receive the interim Superintendent’s recommendation on the partnership between ACPS and the police department.

Via Twitter

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