Last month, the Madison school board unanimously voted in favor of early termination of its contract with the Madison Police Department.
But, because the contract formally ends in 2022, the Common Council also needed to approve the early termination. And last night, in a nineteen to one vote, the council moved to do exactly that.
The decision will remove four School Resource Officers, or SROs, from Madison’s four high schools.
The council’s measure to cancel the contract was introduced by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway on June 25th, four days before the school district made their decision. At the time, she said that the school district and city leadership were coordinating on efforts to end the contract.
“Today, Madison city and school district leaders agreed to end the contract for school resource officers, known as SROs-the police officers that are stationed in high schools-calling for a new approach to managing conflicts in our schools and supporting student needs,” Rhodes-Conway said at a press conference in June.
Alder Paul Skidmore, the lone vote against the city’s measure, said yesterday that removing police from Madison’s school could have long term negative consequences.
“I want to go on record as saying I oppose this on public safety grounds,” he said. “I have always respected the efforts of police officers who served as SROs and I think their efforts have been diminished by the rhetoric we’ve been hearing and that they have helped to maintain a high level of security in our high schools and that that will be greatly diminished, much to our detriment.”
Local advocacy group Freedom Inc, and youth activists from the Youth Freedom Squad, have been pushing to remove SROs from schools for years, saying that a police presence leads to more disparities and inequities in how students are treated.
That push received heightened momentum from months of Black Lives Matter protests in Madison, during which protesters marched to the home of School Board President Gloria Reyes to demand the removal of SROs and have painted “Police Free Schools” in large, yellow letters outside of the school district’s administration building.
The Cap Times reports that the Madison Police Department could face a $300,000 budget shortfall from the early termination of the contract.
At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, board members unanimously approved a new ad hoc committee to research alternative safety measures to School Resource Officers.