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Duluth Branch NAACP Statement Regarding School Resource Officers (SROs)

7 Jul 2020 12:27 PM | Communications Committee (Administrator)

Contact the Educational Equity Committee at education@duluthnaacp.orgThe Duluth NAACP supports youth in our community who advocate on issues relevant to them. Recently, a group of young people in Duluth created and circulated a petition calling for the removal of School Resource Officers (SROs) from their schools and demanding that “Duluth Public Schools (DPS) cut all ties with the Duluth Police Department (DPD) and other punitive law enforcement bodies.” At the time this statement was written, the petition maintained over 1000 signatures, with over half from current and former students, current and former school district staff, and parents and caregivers. The Duluth NAACP supports this petition and is dedicated to working toward alternative solutions to support students in the schools without the use of law enforcement personnel.

Additionally, the Duluth NAACP finds it troubling that amidst a time of great social unrest surrounding policing and racial justice, the ISD709 Board is considering the renewal of its contract with DPD without proactively gathering input from all community stakeholders, or even honoring requests by community stakeholders to formally present their perspectives to the Board. Thus, the Duluth NAACP requests that discussion regarding the renewal of the ISD709 contract with DPD be tabled until the Board has developed a process to gather sufficient input from community stakeholders, and particularly students and families of color who are most negatively impacted by police and law enforcement in the schools. The district’s Tool for Equity Accountability seems relevant to this discussion.

Whereas, the Duluth NAACP recognizes that some Duluth SROs can work effectively in schools; and yet, placing officers in schools contributes to structural inequalities that create potential and actual negative impacts for students; and

Whereas, policing and police in the schools echoes a long history of targeted and inequitable treatment of communities of color; and

Whereas, the Duluth NAACP has historically taken a stand opposing SROs in schools, and supports alternative support and accountability measures for students and staff; and

Whereas, fully examining what students are asking for in their petition regarding SROs in ISD709 supports the Minnesota Commitments to Equity pledged by ISD709, particularly #9: Improve Conditions for learning and #10: Give Students Options; and

Whereas, tabling the renewal of the ISD709 contract with DPD until sufficient input has been gathered from community stakeholders honors the ISD709 commitment to education equity;

Therefore, be it resolved: The Duluth NAACP hereby calls on ISD709 to assess the impacted communities' experience of, and perspective on the SRO program and seriously consider structural changes -including elimination of the program, in order to better serve students with culturally responsive, trauma-informed support personnel.