The agreement allows the district two opportunities to get rid of a school resource officer at one of its high schools over the contract’s three-year period in an effort to work toward the possibility of getting rid of officers completely.
“I feel like we really came up to a really good compromise and really piloting whether we can take SROs out of our schools,” said Gloria Reyes, the school board president. “I think the majority of the board felt that we couldn’t take them out without a plan, and that’s essentially what this opportunity is.”
The district has to make the decision either by Sept. 15 to remove an SRO for the 2020-21 school year or by June 10, 2020, to take effect Jan. 1, 2021. These time requirements give an opportunity for the officers to be reassigned to other duty.
“We wanted to make sure it would work in the timing of the shift picks of the officers,” said Marci Paulsen, the assistant city attorney who negotiated the contract with MMSD. “So it wasn’t happening in the middle when an officer was assigned and all of a sudden we’re like, ‘No you’re no longer in this special duty assignment. You need to go back to patrol.'”
Paulsen this is something she’s never seen before, but many at the meeting didn’t feel it went far enough.
Zon Moua, the director of youth organizing for Freedom, Inc., said data from the district shows disproportionate arrests and discipline toward students of color, and only removing police officers and focusing on community could fix that.
“Whatever amendments there are in the contract, there’s still a contract,” she said. “We want a complete end of the contract, a complete divestment from police officers and a true investment into resources and money into youth of color.”
The contract’s passage Monday isn’t the final step for its implementation. From here it will be drafted into a resolution that needs to be passed by common council at either the July or August meetings in order to be in effect for the 2019-2020 school year.