On Monday, June 10, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Board of Education held a special meeting to vote on the revised School Resource Officer (SRO) contract, an estimated $360,000 to contract four Madison Police Officers to be in the four major Madison high schools (West High School, Memorial High School, La Follete High School, and East High School). Although the board suggested the potential for removing one of the officers, there is no concrete plan made available to the public and we have little faith in the School Board’s commitment to making this a reality.

Furthermore, there was little to no effort by MMSD in notifying the public about this meeting to vote about the SRO contract. When the meeting happened, it was unclear to the community whether this was a vote for the contract amendment or a vote to pass the entire contract. This was a calculated effort to reduce public concern, input, and accountability.

The contract passed with a vote four to three. Mary Burke, Kate Toews, Cris Carusi, and Gloria Reyes voted to keep cops in schools amidst a recent video being released of a Black teen with mental disabilities brutally beaten by Madison Police and coordinated by West High School SRO.

MMSD continues to invest millions of dollars into police, security, and discipline. The data clearly shows the grave consequences of this investment. The disparity rates are alarming. Black students only makeup about 18% of the entire school district but were 87% of school-based-arrests and 82% of school-based-citations in the 2017/18 school year.

Our children deserve better. They deserve schools that are safe, equitable and free of police. The solution is the community. The solution is divestment from the police and investment in the leadership, wellness, creativity, and learning of youth of color – especially Black youth, Black girls, Black LGBTQ youth, and Black youth with disabilities.

Black and Southeast Asian youth want better. Black and Southeast Asian youth are demanding:

1. An immediate end to the SRO contract and the complete removal of cops from all schools.
2. A holistic investment in the leadership wellness, creativity and learning of youth of color.
3. A shift in decision making power to youth, parents, and communities.

We must continue to build the power of our people. We encourage Madison community members to join us at the next school board meeting to advocate for these changes. The next school board meeting will be at Wright Middle School on Monday, June 24 at 6 p.m.

This statement reflects the views of its author and not necessarily those of Madison365, its staff, funders or board of directors.