That’s the question our reporting interns Peyton Barber and Mario Canacasco set out to investigate.
For the past two decades, there have been MPD police officers stationed in each of the major Madison high schools, paid for by the school district. But recently, this deal has come under scrutiny by community members who say that police disproportionately impact students of color. District data shows that African-American students made up 78 % of citations and 83% of arrests at school but are only 18% of the student body.
Both the school board and the city council have decided to move forward with the contract with the MPD for the next three school years.
Listen to their story in the link above.
Note: The term ERO refers to “Educational Resource Officer”, the name for the MPD police officer on duty at each high school. They are also often called SRO, or School Resource Officer.
“You just feel safer. Like there have been some gun threats in LaFollette, so I’m not as worried about them.”
-Lillie Newson, La Follette High School Senior
“The police officer was the one to restrain the girl who (…) threw the girl into the glass”, says Blaise Anderson, a La Follette senior who witnessed the police officer break up fights.
“I needed (to see) training. I needed significant training in autism and significant training in the mental health of the officers,” says Nicki Vander Meulen, a MMSD School Board Member, on why she voted against the contract.
“In my opinion, I feel really nervous around them.”
-Hunter Harried, a 2019 La Follette graduate
“If you are a quality officer, you’re gonna understand that the positive experience that shape people’s relationships with the police are just as relevant and important as the negative interactions that have caused people to fear police.”
-Ali Muldrow, a MMSD School Board Member
“In recent years, police officers have been portrayed kinda bad. Police officers are there to help people out.”
-Rhys Jones, a senior at La Follette
“He could’ve been the one actually issuing stuff like warnings or citations, but there was no actual deterrent for me to stop.”
-Brad McDaniel, a former La Follette Student
“I felt that without a plan of transitioning officers out of our schools, (it) would be irresponsible. And that just because we take the officers out of our schools that doesn’t mean those incidences stop. So I felt like we needed to keep our EROs in schools.”
-Gloria Reyes, MMSD School Board President
Repeated attempts were made to reach several School Resource Officers as well as the head of MMSD School Security, but we received no response.