Roseville Area Schools, city pause renewal of SRO contract in light of legislation changes

Another Twin Cities metro area school district is joining the growing number of districts that won’t have a school resource officer (SRO) at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

A letter sent to families Thursday night from Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Jenny Loeck says the city has paused the renewal of a contract with the district’s school resource officer, citing the recent change in state law, which would keep officers from physically interventions like “using prone restraint and comprehensive restraint on the head, neck and across most of the torso.” If they were to do so, they could face legal consequences.

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According to the letter that was sent to families, Pat Trudgeon, the city manager for Roseville, told district officials in a separate letter that the city will continue to be dedicated to the safety of both students and school staff.

In addition, the district’s letter said that the city plans to have officers respond to calls at the schools and also look for other ways to make sure there are “regular opportunities occur to build relationships between Roseville officers, students, and school staff.”

A copy of the letter sent from the city to the school district on Aug. 29 can be found below. According to the letter, the contract renewal pause regards two SROs within the district was done reluctantly by city officials, and they won’t be bringing it forward for consideration from the City Council as of this time.

Another letter dated Aug. 29, which can also be found below, was sent to City Manager Patrick Trudgeon from Police Chief Erika Scheider, which said “the law was passed without traditional public safety committee review and had no law enforcement stakeholders providing input into this important legislation.”

Scheider went on to say she made the “difficult decision to recommend pausing our SRO partnership with the Roseville Area school District and delay bringing forward the 2023-2024 SRO contracts for council consideration” and that “I cannot in good conscience subject our SROs, nor our Roseville taxpayers, to the increased civil and criminal liabilities that come with the law as it is currently written.”

In that same letter, Scheider said there will still have officers available to respond to calls for service at the schools, and the department is working with district administrators for options at increasing staffing during events such as football games. However, the letter says overtime will need to be funded through the city.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this week, state Republicans sent Gov. Tim Walz a letter asking for a special session in order to address the law affecting school resource officers.

The law in question prohibits any school staff members, including school resource officers, from using a “prone restraint” that would place a student in a face-down position or any sort of hold that “restricts or impairs a pupil’s ability to breathe; restricts or impairs a pupil’s ability to communicate distress; places pressure or weight on a pupil’s head, throat, neck, chest, lungs, sternum, diaphragm, back, or abdomen; or results in straddling a pupil’s torso.”

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Republicans are proposing to repeal the law that was passed in the spring, saying they would revert back to the statute’s original language. Sen. Zach Duckworth (R- Lakeville) said he had reached out to DFL lawmakers and received support from Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin).

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Some of the school districts that are now without school resource officers in at least one of its schools, or will have police working with them in different capacities, include the following:

  • Alexandria;
  • Andover;
  • Anoka-Hennepin;
  • Centennial;
  • Coon Rapids;
  • Faribault;
  • Moorhead;
  • Redwood Falls;
  • Robbinsdale;
  • Rockford High School;
  • Spring Lake Park;
  • Wayzata.

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Meanwhile, St. Paul Public Schools will have new safety steps and protocols in place this school year after 15-year-old Devin Scott was killed during a stabbing at Harding High School in February. Those safety measures include increasing the number of school support liaisons (SSLs), creating “calming spaces” at more than two dozen schools for students who feel overwhelmed, creating clearer language for safety incidents and having advanced technology to monitor school hallways and entrances.

SPPS hasn’t had SROs since it ended its contract with the St. Paul Police Department after the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

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