Mankato the Latest Greater MN District to Keep Cops in Schools

Urban school districts continue to kowtow to the left’s marching orders urging the expulsion of School Resource Officers—cops—from the hallways. Meantime, my colleague Catrin Wigfall has exposed the national teacher union’s laughable attempt to “cancel” its longtime support of SROs.

Education Minnesota’s national affiliate—the National Education Association—is trying to hide its historical support of School Resource Officers on school grounds.

An article on its website (screenshot above) that called SROs “role models” for students and staff has recently been removed, along with an article titled, “Promoting school safety with a badge and a smile.” These were two of several examples of teachers’ unions past support of officers.

In schools as well as the streets, police now often have a target on their back. The latest domino to fall was the Hopkins district, where the school board recently caved in to student demands, the Star Tribune reports.

The Hopkins school board on Tuesday night embraced a student-led call to remove police from Hopkins High School — with the action to come at year’s end.

The 6-1 vote brings a suburban voice to a national movement that has sought to end the use of school resource officers, or SROs.

“When police are in our schools, students of color are denied an opportunity to succeed,” said Muna Musse, a 2020 graduate of Hopkins High.

By contrast, school districts in Greater Minnesota have taken a far more balanced, even nuanced approach to the issue. Take Cloquet, where the school administration had the back of its SRO in the Pine Journal.

Behavioral referrals and drug activity have been decreasing at Cloquet High School over the last few years, a trend officials attribute to the presence of a school resource officer on campus and the restorative justice practices they’ve implemented.

Cloquet High School Principal Steve Battaglia said he believes students behave better because Officer Larry Sherk worked hard to build relationships with them. In addition to his school resource officer duties, Sherk is an assistant track coach and helps at football games.

“It takes a special person to be an SRO, and he is eager to be here,” Battaglia said. “He really embraced the school culture.”

Mankato schools also recently refused to appease students and grads calling for the cops to go. Local law enforcement and school leaders clearly view SROs as part of the solution, rather than the problem, according to the Free Press.

Mankato Director of Public Safety Amy Vokal said her department is listening to the calls for police reforms in the wake of George Floyd’s death. But she believes Mankato’s school resource officer program should not be compared to Minneapolis or St. Paul.

“We are proud of what we do locally and we do feel it is different,” she said.

East High School Principal Jeff Dahline echoed that from the school district’s perspective.

“We want to make sure that that first opportunity for engagement for our students with law enforcement is a positive one and in an area where they feel safe and supported,” he said.

It’s refreshing to see school districts do what educators say they want their students to do—think for themselves, rather than go with the flow, cave in to peer pressure and take the easy way out by eliminating SROs because it’s expedient.