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Panel Discusses Role of Police Presence in Public Schools Across Minnesota

January 26, 2017 10:36 PM

What role police play in public schools is at the center of a talk between students, parents, and school officials in Minnesota.

They met on Thursday night in an event put on by "Students for Education Reform Minnesota."

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"I am a parent, and I have some real, huge concerns about the SROs being in the schools," said Marea Perry, a parent in the St. Paul Public School District. 

So where should we draw the line between student and police interaction?

"I don't think the SRO's have enough credentials to be in there, in our schools, handling our babies," Perry said. 

"We try to give them the same training that we give to our staff," said Jason Matlock, with Minneapolis Public Schools. 

Minneapolis Public Schools understands the concerns but says they're working on how to interact with students more efficiently every day.

"I still believe we need that partnership to make sure the officers that do come in, aren't coming in as street cops. They're trying to come in differently"

St. Paul Public Schools is also listening. In a district report released this week, there were 21 arrests for the first quarter last year. In the same time frame this school year, only one. They're citing a "student-centered team approach" and school resource officers are not to be involved in "behavioral matters".   

"It's really important that they're making that progress," said Kenneth Iban, with Students for Education Reform Minnesota. 

Kenneth Iban with Students for Education Reform is concerned there aren't statewide standards for training school resource officers.

"How can we make sure that students are feeling welcome, safe, and are achieving," Iban said. 

But he believes discussions like they had on Thursday night go a long way, and he says maybe police in schools should be decided on a case by case basis. 

"It depends on the community and I think the community needs to define that," Iban said. 

According to a 2014 law enforcement in schools study, police work in 28 percent of schools in Minnesota.

While it's largely up to each district to decide for themselves on how to handle the interaction, many at the panel hope it's a conversation that continues. 

Credits

Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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