Madison School Board proposes contract with opt-out for school police officers

Jeff Glaze:

Seeking flexibility to respond to community dialog over use of school-based police officers, the Madison School Board has proposed a so-called “compromise” to city officials that would keep officers in Madison’s four main high schools, at least for now.

The School Board on Tuesday unveiled a proposal intended to meet the city’s demands for contract length but also offer the district an opt-out should officials eventually decide to remove police from schools.

Contract length has been the sticking point in negotiations between the city and school district, with the School Board favoring one year and city leaders favoring three.

City officials, including Mayor Paul Soglin and Police Chief Mike Koval, have advocated for the longer contract to provide more certainty in budgeting, recruitment and planning. But amid a national conversation over law enforcement tactics, especially during interactions with minorities, opponents have lobbied the School Board to remove police from schools. Heeding those concerns, the School Board has pushed for a one-year deal while an expert hired by the City Council examines Madison Police Department’s policies, procedures, training and culture.

The latest proposal offers the city its desired three-year deal, but includes what the School Board called “a meaningful termination clause responsive to the city’s budget and hiring timeline.”