Senate Bill Would Eliminate State Funding for School Resource Officers

March 11, 2018 10:34 PM

A bill introduced in the Minnesota Senate would eliminate funding for school resource officers in school districts across the state.

The funding currently comes from the Safe Schools levy, which is an optional levy that must be used by schools to improve safety. Most districts use the funding mechanism.

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Under the proposed bill, the option for school districts to use the money to pay for school resource officers would be eliminated, but the rest of the levy would stay the same.

Supporters of the bill say they like that approach because students of color do not have the same experiences with school resource officers as other students.

The Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP supported recent efforts to cut the number of school resource officers in Minneapolis Public Schools, and its president, Leslie Badue, said she supports the Senate bill as well.

"There is definitely a difference for minority students and having officers in the schools, and it really kind of perpetuates the school-to-prison pipeline. And it creates a dangerous atmosphere for children of color that is very hostile," Badue said. "I think the state should have a say in how local school districts spend the Safe Schools levy because if the local officials are not protecting the students and the state sees a way to to do so, I believe they should be able to."

Opponents, such as State Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Orono, said the bill goes too far.

RELATED: Changes to School Resource Officer Program Under Consideration in St. Paul

"In my district, Orono, we recently had a possible threat followed by a district-wide lockdown, and the school resource officers were indispensable," Osmek said. "They get immediately to the school, or were in the school, to make sure they could lock down and make sure the situation does not erupt. And this bill would also take control of how the money is spent by local school districts, and St. Paul should not make that decision for them."

The bill has not yet reached the Senate Education Policy Committee.

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Jay Kolls

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