‘With SROs being gone, nobody’s going to feel safe at school…’
“I value people and education and life,” school board chairwoman Kim Ellison told the Star-Tribune. “Now I’m convinced, based on the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department, that we don’t have the same values.”
The University of Minnesota, which is located in the city, previously announced it was canceling its relationship with the city’s police force as well.
Like many school districts across the country, the Minneapolis school system has relied on the local police department for its public-resource officers. A Minneapolis Public School survey in 2018-2019 offered largely positive reviews of the public-resource officers, who provided security and mentorship.
A group of North High School students even spoke out against the removal of public-resource officers, citing the example of one officer, who is “like a father” to students.
“With SROs being gone, nobody’s going to feel safe at school,” one of the students said.
School board member Kimberly Caprini, however, said that ”it is completely unnatural to have police in schools.”
The rest of the board agreed, and now Superintendent Ed Graff must present a new plan for school safety by the board’s Aug. 18 meeting.
Board members were supported by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who joined a protest outside the school district’s headquarters on Tuesday.
“Police brutality doesn’t just happen in the streets here in Minneapolis. It happens in our schools,” Omar said. “Enough is enough.”
Minneapolis Police Department Chief Erick Fors said he will continue to work with the school district to build “impactful” relationships “not only for the students and staff, but for the officers who had a calling to work with our youth through mentorship and engagement.”
But board director Josh Pauly said the school board’s decision should serve as a “very clear message” to the MPD.
“Our communities are in pain, and our city is on fire as a result of MPD’s blatant disregard for black lives,” Pauly said last week. “We do have the ability to send MPD a very clear message — not only through public statements — but through action.”