Progressive Dane has issued a letter to the Madison School Board and the City of Madison Board of Estimates regarding their vote on the contract for police in the schools later this afternoon. We are urging them to have a 1 year contract to allow for the police study to be completed and to allow for more public input. Additionally we are calling for a limit to the actions police can take in the schools, more frequent public reporting and a student complaint process.
Progressive Dane Opposes 3-year Extension of Contract
For Police in the Madison Schools
Based on extensive public concern about the role of police in the schools, Progressive Dane is asking the Board of Estimates for the City of Madison and the Madison School Board to modify the contract between the police and the schools prior to approval. In addition to four specific, important changes, “Our members are concerned about police carrying guns in the schools and requiring the school district to spend over $350,000 to have a single officer in each of the high schools. Perhaps the money would be better spent on hiring more social workers in the schools.” said Mary Anglim, Progressive Dane policy committee co-chair. Members were also concerned that the school district has no authority to require police officers to observe school rules of behavior and have no mechanism to dismiss officers who are not working out in the schools.
In calling for a one year extension instead of three, Brenda Konkel co-chair of Progressive Dane says, “This discussion has all happened in less than a month. With policing being a hot topic in Madison and nationally, the public should have more of a chance to weigh in on this. Additionally, we are in the middle of commissioning a study of police policies and procedures and that review should include police in the schools. We should make sure we can change in line with recommendations when the report is finished. A one-year extension just makes more sense.”
Progressive Dane is also calling on the School Board to limit the activities of the police officers in the schools to arrests and citations for violent offenses, to have more public reporting and to have a student complaint process in place. “A one-year contract with these changes won’t satisfy those of us who are concerned we are increasing the vulnerability of Black youth to the school to prison pipeline by having police in the schools. But these changes will be an acknowledgement of public concern and a step in the right direction,” said Progressive Dane Co-Chair Sue Pastor.
Please see attached for the letter to the Madison School Board and City of Madison Board of Estimates committee members.
LETTER TO BOARD OF ESTIMATES AND SCHOOL BOARD:
To: Madison School Board and Board of Estimates
From: Progressive Dane
Re: 3 year renewal of ERO contract
Our general membership voted on Wednesday to oppose the 3-year renewal of the contract for police in the high schools and spending over $350,000 for that service.
The membership had 4 major concerns:
Progressive Dane asks specifically that you limit the ERO contract to one year. This issue is of significant concern to the public, and there has been very little time for public input and discussion. At the one opportunity the public has had to weigh in, the school board meeting of August 8, overwhelming opposition to the three-year contract was expressed. It is extremely problematic to commit three years worth of resources on this timeline, with one opportunity for public discussion. Additionally, a one-year contract will allow us to use the results of the forthcoming police policy study. We believe the outcome of that study could significantly influence how police are used in our schools. . (HELP!!!)
Progressive Dane asks that you limit the powers of the police in the schools to arrest and cite students. Arrests should be made only in the case of violent situations, as other communities have now mandated. The constant presence of officers in the schools citing students for what are school disciplinary infractions feeds the school to prison pipeline and increases the vulnerability of youth of color.
Progressive Dane calls for more transparency through frequent, public reports. In general we have concerns about the transparency of both the police and the school district. We believe that reports should be provided and discussed at a Board of Education meeting as well as the city’s Education Committee at the end of each semester. Until after the August 8 Board of Education meeting, the public had no access to the annual report of the police on EROs. Only school board members had seen this document.
Progressive Dane calls on the Madison School Board to create a student complaint process immediately. We are concerned that if a school is having issues with an officer, it does not have the authority to dismiss that officer from their duties, nor does a student have a simple, clear way to ask for review of an officer’s actions. We think that a student complaint process will go a long way towards bringing these issues to the forefront for future action.
Due to the last minute nature of the contract renewal, we think that minimally the contract should only be for one year and that there should be public discussion and debate effective immediately to re-negotiate a contract or terminate the contract in its entirety. In particular, we would like the outcome of the police study to inform the contract for the 2017-2018 school year.