From our news partner Channel3000:
The Madison Metropolitan School District Board voted unanimously Monday to end the school district’s contract with the Madison Police Department and remove police from schools.
Board President Gloria Reyes said the decision is effective immediately.
The decision comes after the issue of school resource officers gained strong momentum amid nationwide protests calling for communities to reexamine their relationship with police.
In reference to the vote, Acting Police Chief Vic Wahl released a statement expressing disappointment with the district’s decision.
“The SROs worked seamlessly with school staff, and have had a positive impact on our schools. The progressive way that our school resource officers approached their work is a model for others to follow,” Wahl said. “It’s disappointing that the program appears to be ending, without recognition of the real work that the SROs have done or understanding of the consequences that will follow their removal from the schools.”
In contrast, Madison Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway released a statement calling the decision an important one.
“I am glad the school board acted today to end the SRO contract earlier than previously planned,” Rhodes-Conway said. “The Common Council will also take action in July to terminate the contract. This is an important piece of the conversation about reimagining public safety, and I am confident that the schools will develop smart new models for safety and equity that will serve all children and our community well. The state should provide needed funding to help support new models of public safety in schools and our City will lobby with the schools on behalf of this important initiative.”
The decision to vote on whether or not to keep SROs comes roughly two weeks after MMSD Board President Gloria Reyes announced that a new sub-committee would look into alternatives to having police in schools.
That decision was a major reversal for Reyes, a former police officer herself, who had previously said removing police from schools was not the answer. Her reversal came shortly after the Madison teachers’ union called for the removal of police from schools.
“Now is the time for all institutions to take a hard look at what they do and how they do it and how they feed into the racist practices within their own institutions in our community,” Reyes said during Monday’s special session. “Since George Floyd’s murder and continued demands to remove school resource officers, I’ve had to put aside my own personal and professional views about police in schools, to reflect on the many voices who have advocated for change.”
On Thursday, activists gathered downtown to push for the end of the MMSD’s relationship with the MPD. During the protest, which was organized by Freedom Inc., demonstrators raised a yellow flag at the State Education Building that read “Police Free School.”
Freedom Inc. has played a consistent role in the push for removing police from schools. The organization, which has been fighting for police-free schools for more than three years, called the vote a “great victory.”
“Following the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless others, millions of people are taking action to demand #DefundPolice and #InvestInCommunity,” Freedom Inc. said in a statement shared on Instagram. “We are winning AND we are not done yet!”