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PolitiFact Virginia: Cox Characterization of Bynum-Coleman's SRO Statement "Mostly False"

House Speaker Kirk Cox

Speaker: Kirk Cox

Statement: “Sheila Bynum-Coleman said, ‘We need to get the police out of the schools.’”

Date: Oct. 10

Setting: TV ad

House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, has been running a TV ad accusing his opponent, Democrat Sheila Bynum-Coleman, of wanting to remove police from public schools.

The ad starts with a narrator saying “Sheila Bynum-Coleman said…” and cuts to a tape of the candidate saying, “We need to get the police out of the schools. Get the police out of the schools.”

Then the ad shows four “real moms, not actors,” sitting at a kitchen table, holding coffee mugs and disagreeing with Bynum-Coleman.

“That’s scary,” the first woman says. “I don’t want my kids in an environment where they’re not going to be safe.”

The second woman says police are “heroes.” The third says the officers are at schools  “as an added layer of protection.” The fourth says, “I just want my daughter to be safe.”

The ad returns to the first woman, who says, “As a mom, I wouldn’t vote for Sheila Bynum-Coleman. I just wouldn’t.”

During much of commercial, there’s type on the screen saying, “We need to get the police out of the schools - Sheila Bynum-Coleman.”

Bynum-Coleman says Cox has distorted comments she made two years ago. So we fact-checked Cox’s ad claim.

The commercial cites as its source an Oct. 9, 2017 podcast interview of Bynum-Coleman by Marcello Rollando, a performing arts director and liberal activist. Bynum-Coleman was asked for her thoughts on the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the trend of a disproportionate number of black students being expelled from schools or arrested.

In a lengthy reply, Bynum-Coleman said many schools were relegating routine student discipline to on-site police and security guards. She did say “we need to get the police out of the schools,” as Cox claims in his ad. But the commercial omits Bynum Coleman saying in her next breath the officers are needed to provide safety.

Here are her expanded remarks:

“But now we have police in the school who are policing our children, you know we don’t want children to get into fights, we don’t want them walking into class late, we don’t want them being disruptive in the classrooms, but do we want to send them to prison?

“I think there’s an alternative here and I think we need to get the police out of the schools. The police need to be there for safety measures and to make sure the school is safe, not to incarcerate the children and deal with disciplinary actions, and that’s what’s taking place.”

A few minutes later, Bynum-Coleman said, “I think that the police should only be there to make sure the school is safer and secure. They should not have any dealings with disciplinary actions within the school.”

Rob Silverstein, Bynum-Coleman’s campaign manager, sent us an email calling Cox’s ad “incredibly misleading and deceptive.” ,

Parker Slaybaugh, a spokesman for Cox, stood by the ad. "It's pretty hard to be a misrepresentation of Ms. Bynum-Coleman, when the ad uses a recording of her own words,” he said.

 

Our ruling

Cox’s ad says. “Sheila Bynum-Coleman said, ‘We need to get the police out of the schools.’”

Bynum-Coleman used those words in a lengthy answer she gave to a question about the “school-to-prison pipeline,” affecting many black students.

But in her next sentence, she explained that police “need” to be on hand “to make sure the school is safe, not to incarcerate the children and deal with disciplinary actions and that’s what’s taking place.”

And she elaborated a few minutes later, “I think that the police should only be there to make sure the school is safe and secure. They should not have any dealings with disciplinary actions within the school.”

Cox ignores this easily available context and, in an era of mass shootings, misleadingly creates the impression that Bynam-Coleman said she would leave schools unprotected.

We rate Cox’s claim Mostly False. 

 

Sources:

House Speaker Kirk Cox, TV ad, Oct. 10, 2019.

Email from Rob Silverstein, campaign manager for Sheila Bynum-Coleman, Oct. 14, 2019.

Sheila Bynum-Coleman, radio interview with Marcello Rollando, Oct. 9, 2017 (8:25 and 13:57 marks)..

Interview and email from Parker Slaybaugh, spokesman for Cox, Oct. 21, 2019.

The Washington Post, “ Out with the moon bounce, in with attack ads: Virginia House speaker in fight in redrawn district,” Oct. 11, 2019.

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