The Potluck

St. Paul school board votes to remove police from schools

By: - June 24, 2020 11:18 am

The St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education voted 5-1 on June 23, 2020 to end contract negotiations with the St. Paul Police Department.

St. Paul Public Schools is at least the second Minnesota school district to remove police officers from schools since the police killing of George Floyd.

The school board voted 5-1 Tuesday to end contract negotiations with the St. Paul Police Department, the Star Tribune reported, three weeks after the Minneapolis Board of Education cut ties with the city’s police department. Seven school resource officers worked at St. Paul schools under the $775,000 contract, which was set to expire at the end of the month.

The board directed the superintendent to establish a districtwide safety committee and individual school safety groups, MPR reported. Board members also voted to create an interim safety plan, which they will discuss at an August meeting.

Board Director John Brodrick was the lone “no” vote. He said ending the contract would “jeopardize safety and relationships” since SROs “provide safety for our students and … a buffer from intruders from the outside.”

On Monday, more than 125 students and community members gathered at Central High School in support of ending the contract with the St. Paul Police Department. Students and alumni said the money spent on SROs could be used to pay teachers of color and student support staff.

The district has debated the role of police in schools before. Students protested in 2016 after the arrest of a high school student that critics said was excessively violent, and the school board approved a new contract with the department aimed at limiting officers’ interactions with students to criminal activity, not discipline.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.