“People are asking for real, substantive changes and the city is responding,” said Madison mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “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.”
That’s Madison mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, announcing the Madison school board would be voting on whether or not to terminate its contract with the Madison police department.
The Madison metropolitan school district currently contracts with the Madison Police Department to put police officers called school resource officers at Madison’s four high schools.
School districts have faced increased pressure to terminate school contracts with police across the country. Eight days after the police killing of George Floyd, the Minneapolis Board of Education voted to unanimously terminate its contract with the police department.
Several cities, including in Denver, Oakland, Portland, and elsewhere have voted to remove police presence in schools in some way.
Local Madison activists have been calling for no cops in schools for years. M Adams, the co-executive director of local advocacy group Freedom Inc, says the Mayor’s announcement yesterday is a good first step.
“We’ve had an active campaign over the last four years led by Freedom Youth Squad, which is our youth leadership team inside of Freedom Inc demanding that police be removed from schools because police cause violence to black and brown students,” said Adams. “And they should not be in our communities, let alone our education system. So we thought it was an important step-but still a step-because there is still much work left to be done on ending policing and police terrorism against our communities.”
Freedom Inc, along with partner organizations, has organized several protests in past weeks, including a protest outside the MMSD administration building where protesters painted “Police Free Schools” in yellow paint outside the building.
Another protest three weeks ago led by Freedom Inc involved a caravan to the home of School Board President Gloria Reyes to demand police free schools, who has supported police in schools and is a former Madison police officer herself.
Five days following that protest, Reyes changed her stance, announcing she would support removing School Resource Officers from Madison schools.
Around that time, the Madison Teachers union also changed its course, and backed the removal of police from the city’s four high schools. But the stance came with a caveat to hire nearly three dozen additional support staff of nurses, psychologists, counselors, and social workers.
The Madison School Board is slated to vote on the contract next Monday.
Last June, the school board voted by a narrow margin to renew the contract employing police officers in schools until June 2022. The members who voted no last year — Ananda Mirillli, Ali Muldrow, and Nicki Vander Meulen — all remain on the board, and new board member Savion Castro has also said he opposes the contract, reports the Cap Times.
The school board’s decision will need to be finalized by September 14th in order to make it into the 2021 budget.