Author: Sam Buisman
The Madison Metropolitan School District board terminates its contract with the Madison Police Department on Monday, removing police from its schools.
During an MMSD School Board meeting Monday afternoon, board members unanimously voted to end the district’s contract with the MPD to fund four School Resource Officers, police officers stationed inside of schools. The board said that it came to its decision after re-evaluating its position on police in schools in the wake of George Floyd’s death and continual pressure from activists.
During the meeting, Board President Gloria Reyes, who previously supported keeping police in Madison schools, discussed how she came to reverse her position.
“Now is the time for all institutions to take a hard look at what they do and how they do it and how they feed into the racist practices within their own institutions in our community,” said Reyes.
The practice of funding SROs has been long criticized by criminal and racial justice activists, who argue that using police to deal with student discipline rather than teachers or school administrators forces students into the penal system and contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.
FreedomInc., a local non-profit activist organization that has championed this issue and organized many of the recent protests demanding the removal of police from schools, released a statement celebrating the board’s decision and the work of activists in demanding it.
“Following the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others, millions of people are taking action to demand #DefundPolice and #InvestInCommunity,” wrote the group in a press release. “We are winning AND we are not done yet!”
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway also supported the board’s decision.
“This is an important piece of the conversation about reimagining public safety,” said the Mayor, “and I am confident that the schools will develop smart new models for safety and equity that will serve all children and our community well.”
However, supporters of SROs argue that a police presence in school is necessary for student safety.
According to Channel3000, Acting Police Chief Vic Wahl echoed these sentiments in a statement disapproving of the board’s action.
“It’s disappointing that the program appears to be ending, without recognition of the real work that the SROs have done or understanding of the consequences that will follow their removal from the schools,” said Wahl.