For years, activists demanded that the Madison Metropolitan School District remove police officers, known as School Resource Officers, from the district’s four main high schools.
The past month has seen protests over the issue, following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The Madison school board voted unanimously on Monday to terminate the district’s contract with the Madison Police Department for school resource officers, effective immediately.

Opponents of the SRO program say the presence of police in schools negatively impacts students of color and makes them feel unsafe.

Prior to Monday’s vote, board member Ananda Mirilli said the action sends the message that “the bodies of black and brown students will no longer be criminalized.”

“We are also saying that we don’t have all the answers. We are learning to do this anti-racism work alongside many other communities across the U.S., and we won’t stop until we actually get it right.”

Police and supporters say SROs have specific training that makes them better suited to dealing with issues that arise at schools.

Acting Police Chief Vic Wahl said in a statement that SROs “have played an instrumental role in maintaining a safe learning environment” in the high schools.

School board president Gloria Reyes, a former police officer, said the community was clearly telling the board to act now rather than in the future.

“The majority of my colleagues on the board have expressed their support for the removal of SROs. The Madison teachers’ union . . . have supported the removal. The mayor and other elected officials have expressed support to remove.”

Security plans for the district’s high schools have yet to be determined. Reyes announced during the meeting the creation of a safety and security committee to work on what those will look like going forward. The Madison City Council is expected to vote to terminate the contract next month as well.

 

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