Osseo School Board SRO Resolution Fails on 3-3 Vote
The Osseo School Board was unable to get behind a resolution urging the Minnesota Legislature to resolve issues surrounding school resource officers.
The measure failed on a 3-3 vote.
Both the Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove police chiefs showed up at Tuesday night’s meeting urging support of the resolution.
Those departments pulled their SROs at the start of the school year because officers felt the legislation approved last session, amended statutes 121A.58 and 121A.582, created confusion on their ability to restrain unruly students. The Osseo School District has contracts with both cities for SRO support.
“The real truth is police officers are not teachers. They are police officers,” Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley told the school board. “We’ve elected to put them in schools because our schools are microcosms of our community and there are crimes that occur. The legislation reduced the authority of a police officer down to similar what a teacher would be in the school.”
Bruley brought forward statistics mentioning 40 911 calls since the beginning of the year at three Brooklyn Park schools, all in the Osseo School District: North View Middle School, Brooklyn Middle School and Park Center High School. The calls ranged for a variety of issues, including narcotics, fights, weapons, threats, assaults and sexual assaults, Bruley said.
Maple Grove Police Chief Eric Werner, also spoke in favor of the resolution, which essentially adds Osseo School District backing to a Minnesota School Boards Association resolution urging lawmakers to clarify language in the law.
“Unfortunately the statutory change for SROs created conflicts in law, two standards for police officers and overall ongoing confusion,” said Werner.
The police chiefs said not having SROs in schools makes it difficult to build trust with kids, not to mention providing a quicker response time to incidents.
“I think that is the biggest loss we’ve seen is now we have patrol officers responding on a 911 call without relationships, without the deep training and aptitude to do this work, and we’re just not going to see the great outcomes we have historically with our school resource officers in our school,” Bruley said.
Resolution Fails on 3-3 Vote
While no board members voiced disapproval of having SROs in schools, those who voted against the resolution felt it wasn’t necessary.
“As far as I’m aware, every state legislator is fully aware of this issue, and has acknowledged this is something that needs to be addressed and fixed,” said board member Thomas Brooks. “It feels like we’re trying to jump on a train that left the station a long time ago.”
Board member Tanya Simons pointed out that she followed school board process, which is why the resolution wasn’t able to come together last month in a more timely fashion.
Osseo School Board chair Jacquelene Mosqueda-Jones took a deep breath before issuing her response on the matter, calling it a “communication problem” between police and legislators.
“I’m frustrated that school districts are in the middle of conflicts like this,” said Mosqueda-Jones. “It just makes me sad.”
Mosueda-Jones joined Brooks and board member Tamara Grady in voting no.
Board members Simons, Sarah Mitchell and Heather Douglass voted in favor.
“We have students who created a petition to have SROs brought back into schools because this is an issue important to them,” said Douglass. “It truly breaks my heart for whatever political agenda you might have that you’re not choosing to support this.”
Douglass added that she was “shocked” and “disturbed” that the full board didn’t back the resolution.
The state legislature is expected to take up the issue when it convenes in February.