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Will chaos reign in St. Paul’s high school hallways?

St. Paul public school leaders seem determined that chaos should reign in the district’s high school hallways.  The school board’s contract for “school resource officers” (SROs) is up for renewal with the St. Paul Police Department, and students demanded changes in cops’ role at the board’s July 26 meeting. According to the Pioneer Press:

The Pan-African Student Union at Central High School wants police to stop arresting students for minor crimes such as theft, fighting and drug possession. They say unnecessarily arresting teens is counterproductive, pushing students out of schools and into the criminal justice system.

‘Do we want to contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline, or are we really trying to protect students?” Central senior Saffiyah Alaziz asked the school board.

So it’s now OK to steal, assault others, and use drugs on school grounds. What’s left to prohibit—murder?

At least school officials are taking a hard line, right?

Laurie Olson, security director for the school district, said she shared the students’ demands with the police department last week. She said the district hasn’t taken a position on the types of crimes SROs should enforce, but the issue merits discussion.

‘It absolutely will be something that we bring to the table for discussion. I can’t tell you where that will go,’ she said.

It’s clear where that should go. Moms and dads, get your kids out now!

But some parents appear to be OK with letting lawlessness rule school hallways:

Laura Jones, a parent of two district students and a proponent of restorative justice, thinks resource officers should focus on stopping threats to school safety.

That means minor crimes that take place at school, such as trespassing, truancy, theft, fighting and drug use, she said, would be ‘dealt with more appropriately in other ways’ that don’t involve arrest and prosecution.

Who’s going to “deal with” these infractions, if not police? The last time a teacher tried to stop a fight at Central High, he ended up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury.

If anarchy in St. Paul schools is to end, kids’ behavior must change. But the folks whom the Pioneer Press calls “advocates” of “a gentler, more lenient approach to law enforcement in the city’s high schools” reject that notion.  It’s cops’ behavior that must change, they say:

Chauntyll Allen, an education assistant and community organizer, said SROs aren’t properly trained to work with students. The officers get the same fundamental ‘Beyond Diversity’ training other employees get, but Allen said they need additional training in de-escalation, cultural relevance and dealing with children with traumatic life histories.

Not a word about reforming the kids whose unruly behavior is making it impossible for the rest of their classmates to learn.

The recent firing of St. Paul Schools’ superintendent Valeria Silva was supposed to signal a turn-around in the state’s most dysfunctional school system. This latest insanity appears to dash any hope of that.




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