MINNEAPOLIS, MN– Amid nationwide protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, in June, the Minneapolis Board of Education unanimously voted to eliminate its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).
By canceling their contract with the MPD, schools will no longer have school resource officers (SRO) assigned to them.
According to City Pages, students at North High School, just one of the many schools impacted by this decision, and their representative on the school board, KerryJo Felder suggested an amendment that would allow at the least the north-side schools to keep their SRO’s if they elected to, but that was shot down by other board members.
The Minneapolis Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to terminate the district's contract with the Minneapolis Police Department, which provided school resource officers at school buildings https://t.co/6MI0Otecxz
— CNN (@CNN) June 4, 2020
As it stands, when the school year begins in the fall, there will be no SRO’s in any of the schools in Minneapolis. Allegedly, Superintendent Ed Graff is supposed to have a plan for some alternative type of security a few weeks before the start of the school year.
However, it is nearly the beginning of August and students, families, and teachers claim they have received no communication from the district or school board on what the alternative security plan is. Prior to the death of George Floyd, Minneapolis schools had been using SRO’s to keep all of their students safe for more than 50 years.
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, which is the city’s teacher union, found an online job posting for new full-time security positions. The title of the actual position is “public safety support specialists” or “PSSS”.
The posting says nothing about being a cop currently or previously as part of the requirements, but the original posting did say that the candidate should have a law enforcement degree with the person having the ability to break up fights, monitor security at events, and provide a bridge between in-school intervention and law enforcement.
The position is to pay $65,695-$85,790 and at the time of finding the posting, the application had been posted online for nearly two weeks. The teachers union was furious that it had not been consulted prior about this plan to hire public safety support specialists.
After voting to terminate contracts with the #Minneapolis PD, the Minneapolis Board of Education is "quietly" hiring #publicsafety support specialists. The decision to hire #securityofficers has been met with resistance from local teachers/parents. https://t.co/HNzMaebh3S
— SECURITY Magazine (@securitymag) July 21, 2020
The teachers union has asked concerned parents and students to call the district immediately with two demands. One, stop the PSSS hiring process and two, involve the public on how school security will be constructed for the upcoming school year.
On Monday, the Board of Education acknowledged in a statement that they are hiring these new employees on an accelerated schedule in order to have them trained and ready prior to the first day of school this fall.
There are 11 job openings for the PSSS and according to the district, these openings are the first part of a two-step plan that will be presented publicly at the Board of Education meeting on August 18th. Allegedly, a longer-term, more comprehensive plan that will allow for more thorough planning and community engagement will unfold next year.
The statement also said that students who volunteered to serve on the district’s climate and behavior framework committees would be included for the second round of interviews during the week of August 3rd for potential candidates.
When the Minneapolis Board of Education canceled its contract with the MPD, they said that it would provide a $1.1 million saving a year in their budget. The new, alternative security plan in hiring 11 PSSS, is set to cost them $944,000.
On Sunday, more than 100 angry teachers, parents, and students protested this hiring move outside the school district headquarters in the Davis Center. They claim that the school district’s actions does not match what they said when the voted to eliminate SROs from all the schools.
The Board of Education statement claims that the original PSSS posting erroneously required a background in law enforcement, but that the vast majority of people scheduled for interviews do not have that type of experience. They said:
“We regret any misunderstanding about the intent for these initial positions.”
Last month in Portland, Oregon the district moved in the same direction.
Apparently, nothing spells safety for your children at school like removing armed school resource officers – at least, that’s the logic provided by Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero.
But hey, removal of safeguards for children is a small price to pay for Twitter “likes” and clap emojis.
The announcement was made by Guerrero on June 4th, regarding the removal of armed school resource officers. According to the superintendent, the Portland school district is “discontinuing the regular presence of school resource officers.”
The time is now. With new proposed investments in direct student supports (social workers, counselors, culturally-specific partnerships & more), I am discontinuing the regular presence of School Resource Officers @PPSConnect. We need to re-examine our relationship with the PPB.
— Guadalupe Guerrero (@Super_GGuerrero) June 4, 2020
Instead, Guerrero says the district will increase spending on the likes of social workers, counselors, and something called “culturally specific partnerships” for the student body.
Whatever these “culturally specific partnerships” are exactly is a bigger mystery than that of who shot J.R. Ewing in the TV show “Dallas” back in 1980.
So, instead of police officers protecting children in school, they’re getting replaced with essentially the following:
- “Counselors” – someone to talk about your feelings with.
- “Social workers” – someone else to talk about your feelings with, tells everyone to be friends, and then tells themselves they ‘changed the world’ because they explained to someone how to fill out an EBT application.
- “Culturally specific partnerships” – ???
Guerrero’s move came shortly after Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty asked for the school resource officers be removed from Portland – amongst other requests:
“I’m asking you to join me in removing the Gun Violence Reduction Team, School Resource Officers, and Transit Police.”
Much like the James Bond franchise, one act of virtue signaling isn’t enough – there must be countless sequels of the same notion with just different actors playing the part.
That’s where school board chair Andrea Valderrama chimed in with her sentiments on Twitter.
Valderrama isn’t just trying to remove the school resource officers within the district, but wants them flat-out barred from maintaining event security if there’s some event planned at the school:
“The resolution will also direct the Superintendent to cease any further negotiations with the Portland Police Bureau and any law enforcement agency for the services of School Resource Officers, event enforcement, training, and any other services.”
The resolution will also direct the Superintendent to cease any further negotiations with the Portland Police Bureau and any law enforcement agency for the services of School Resource Officers, event enforcement, training, and any other services. 5/8
— Andrea Valderrama (@Chata_503) June 4, 2020
At this point, why doesn’t the mayor hop on board too?
Oh wait, he already did.
Mayor Ted Wheeler also stated on Twitter that he’s going to back the move of “pulling police officers from schools”. Another Twitter-approved elected official sounds the woke-bullhorn.
Thank you, @PPSConnect. We agree.
Leaders must listen and respond to community. We must disrupt the patterns of racism and injustice.
I am pulling police officers from schools. https://t.co/AN3JemgpEk
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) June 4, 2020
Are these folks so quick to forget that just last year in May, there was the incident at Parkrose High School in Portland that involved a student bringing a gun to school?
Not just a hand gun, but a full-blown shotgun. Luckily, the school’s football coach, Keanon Lowe, tackled the gunman before any harm could occur.
Now, while Lowe isn’t a school resource officer, he was a former wide receiver for the University of Oregon’s football team and was employed as a school security guard at Parkrose, too.
What Lowe wasn’t was a social worker or counselor, because he tackled the threat instead of talking them through their emotions.
Ironically, when news crews were doing a segment on school resource officers at Portland’s Lincoln High School in 2017, the SRO on duty had to literally break up a brawl between students.
The news clip was related to calls three years’ earlier to remove officers from schools, and Lincoln High’s principle said on camera that she liked having an officer on campus.
The notion of no school resource officers simply panders to the currently touted form of “safety” echoed by social media, since there’s a fringe-element creating a narrative that police are dangerous.
But removing school resource officers from campuses to make a small portion of the student body feel safe is only creating the illusion of safety.
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