There will be a police officer in each of the Madison Metropolitan School District’s four comprehensive public high schools until at least January 2021.
The first deadline for the school district to notify the Madison Police Department that it wanted to remove one of the school resource officers, which could have been effective June 15, 2020, passed Sept. 15 with no notification. That deadline, along with one next year, was set in the contract approved on a 4-3 vote in June to cover the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.
A statement from School Board president Gloria Reyes provided to the Cap Times in an email from district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson stated the district needed “more time to discuss that option, and will return to that discussion at the next deadline set forth in the contract.”
If you haven’t noticed, September 15 has come and gone while the Madison school board sat on its hands. With this bunch, doing nothing is the right thing. September 15 was the deadline to evict a school resource (police) officer from one of the four main high schools for next school year (2020-21). The school board didn’t do so despite all the storm und drang from Muldrow and Mirilli so the high schools will be safer places for another full school year. Background here.
As the late Sam Cooke sang, “Ain’t that good news!”
Southern Wisconsin is enjoying its finest weather all year: cool clear and crisp days, low humidity, high skies and temps topping out in the low 70s F. The field corn is starting to turn; tassels are already cherokee red. Matched with yellowing soybeans on hillsides stippled with green alfalfa. The blush in the woodlots beginning to glow. Butterflies and hummingbirds are loading up on nectar at Blaska Experimental Work Farm (and Penal Colony).
If the School Board wants to pilot a high school without an officer, it will need to act by the second deadline in the contract, June 10, which would remove an officer after the fall semester of the 2020-21 school year.
The contract runs through the 2021-22 school year.
Reyes said if the option is exercised, it will need to be done in “the most thoughtful and comprehensive way possible” and require careful planning on what an alternate model to having an SRO would look like at a high school without the officer.
For more than two years, opponents of SROs urged the board to end the program outright, arguing students of color are disproportionately cited and arrested by the officers. After months of closed-session discussions among School Board members, the board ultimately approved the contract in June.