Header Image Mobile Header Image


10/23/2019 | Organizing for Education Justice, Promoting Strong Public Schools, Justice Transformation

Youth Leaders Win Big in Milwaukee, Stopping Metal Detectors Contract in Public High Schools

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), a youth of color-led organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin just won another big battle in the fight to permanently dismantle the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline! Check out and share their victory tweet to spread the word! 

On October 22, the Milwaukee Public School Board of School Directors held a public hearing on a proposed $217,600 contract with ADANI Systems, Inc. that would provide airport-style x-ray machines in more than a dozen Milwaukee public high schools.

Following months of pressure and advocacy, LIT mobilized to make sure youth voices were heard at the hearing. They had more than 15 young people testify at the hearing, helping drive home the fact that the contract that would further criminalize students of color and highlighting the lack of evidence showing metal detectors do anything to make schools safer. They conveyed that what is truly needed is investments in trauma-informed schools and mental health care.


In a letter to addressed to the Board’s Committee on Accountability, Fiance, and Personnel in the final hours before the vote, LIT stressed:

The x-ray machines from ADANI Systems, and ones like it, are part of a larger trend of policing Black and Brown young people across the nation and often result in students being funneled into the criminal legal system rather than a learning environment. The first two types of clients ADANI Systems markets its X-Ray screening equipment to are Prisons and Correctional Facilities, and Customs and Border Crossings. Authorizing the contract allowing for the purchase and maintenance of these machines will further a racist system of school security and companies profiting off of public fear for children’s safety without providing honest solutions.  


Not only is policing and punitive discipline ineffective and discriminatory it is also an incredibly expensive drain on public funds that could be used to fund supports and resources for young people... While X-ray machines, surveillance cameras, and more policing perpetuate the school-to-prison-and- deportation pipeline, studies have shown that the best way to ensure school safety is to create an inclusive learning environment where students can grow." 

The group also garnered support from advocates across the country, including Dr. Rosalind Osgood, a Broward County School Board member and Local Progress member in Florida, who penned a powerful letter to the school board on their behalf. 


After their press conference and testimony, the Committee voted NO on the proposed contract! 

As LIT celebrates this incredible victory, they’re also prepared to continue the long fight. There is still a deeply seeded school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline in Milwaukee that must be dismantled. 

LIT also recently endorsed the Youth Mandate for Presidential Candidates, calling on presidential hopefuls to commit and take concrete steps to permanently dismantling the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline. In the coming months, LIT will continue working with CPD, other CPD affiliates and movement leaders to engage with presidential hopefuls on the issue at a national level. 

Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) is a youth of color-led organization focused on developing the leadership of young people through civic engagement and advocacy to create political power that meets the needs of young people. LIT believes MPS students of color face MPS’ challenges most directly and therefore have the best solutions. Back in July, they also achieved a $600,000 divestment from police and school security into funds that now support six new mental health positions focused on trauma-informed care.