Cut Ties with Mankato Police Department within the Mankato Area Public School District
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To the Mankato Area Community,
Our peers in Winona did it. Our peers in St.Paul did it. Our peers in Minneapolis did it. Our peers nationwide have as well. Now, it’s our turn.
We want School Resource Officers (SROs) out of our schools. We demand that Mankato Area Public Schools (MAPS) cut all ties with the Mankato Police Department (MPD) and other punitive law enforcement bodies.
For a school district that claims to be committed to equity, inclusion, and anti-racist work, they should not align themselves with a police force that heavily contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline. No time like the present for the Mankato Area Public School System to acknowledge, address, and actively fight against the systemic racism that is infiltrating our education, by weeding out what leads students to be funneled to the adult criminal system.
Beyond the criminalization of Black and brown youth, SROs do not contribute to the well being and safety of the student body.According to information from the Equal Justice Initiative, compared to schools without officers, schools with officers are 2.5 times more likely to refer students to law enforcement and 3.1 times more likely to arrest students. Thus, with the racial disparities already present in DPS disciplinary practices, SROs in our schools extend the reach of the school-to-prison pipeline.
Black and brown students in the Mankato Area Public School district are referred to court for relatively minor school-based misconduct. The criminalization that occurs from school-based conduct has become more and more prevalent within our school district. In 2018, the State of Minnesota required Mankato Area Public Schools to create a plan to help address and reduce the discipline disparities. Mankato Area Public Schools is among 43 school districts identified by the Department of Human Rights in which students of color and special education students were disproportionately suspended and expelled as opposed to their white counterparts. As of now, the Mankato Area Public Schools has a contract with the Mankato Police Department. Within that contract three police officers patrol our halls and our school district compensates them for nine months. Our school district allows and approves that our Black and brown students be funneled into the criminal justice system. Numerous research has shown that schools with police officers tend to have higher arrest and higher suspensions which have already occurred within our school district according to the Department of Human Rights.
If the above mentioned isn't enough to make you reconsider the presence of SROs in schools, let's talk about how we have over 100 students who are housing insecure and we have a school lunch debt of over $100,000, and how 1 in 10 families are food insecure. What our students need is not to be removed from school and charged with a crime but they need to be nurtured and made to feel safe. Many students are not acting out just to act out many students are not having their needs met. We must stop criminalizing the behaviors of students who face many barriers just by showing up to school.
Instead of SROs in our schools, we are asking to be given an equitable chance, we are asking that you remove the systems of known oppression for Black and brown students and it be divested from. We would like to see funding be spent on increasing the accessibility of resources that can be helpful to all students. These possibilities include, but are not limited to, increased numbers of guidance counselors, mental health experts, and more after school programs readily available to the students, on and off the premises. Increased resources for students who don't have the means necessary to complete homework at home, such as, computers and Wi-Fi/hotspots. The list can and will go on.
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