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Johnson wants City to stop paying their part for School Resource Officers

The Gainesville City Commission meeting on June 4

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

At the end of Thursday night’s Gainesville City Commission meeting, Commissioner Gail Johnson proposed that the City stop paying for its portion of the School Resource Officer program:

“We’re in budget season, and… I’ve been thinking a lot more about policing, considering everything that’s going on in the nation, and looking over our budget, I realized that we spend approximately $800,000 on school resource officers, and we all know it’s an unfunded mandate from the state and that the city pays for half and that the school board pays for half. I don’t know necessarily know that it is that way in all of… Florida, but I think it’s worth having a discussion about this.

“What I would like to do is to get some insight from our city manager… about how this unfunded mandate works in other cities and what options there would be for funding if we decided to not fund, at least.

“Perhaps the school board needs to pay for all of it; perhaps there’s another option for payment. But the city spends $800,000 on that, and I’d like to get some more information and have a discussion specifically about that piece for this upcoming budget.”

She continued, “I’m personally going in the direction that [the school board] should be paying for all of it.”

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She asked for more information and a discussion of the topic at the next budget meeting.

  • This particular commissioner wants to join the far left in defunding any law enforcement agency. She wants everyone to believe ALL law enforcement officers are bad and to blame for the George Floyd tragedy. You can bet she’ll be the first to blame someone else if a tragedy happens on school grounds for lack of law enforcement. What needs to be defunded is her and her fellow commissioners

  • Since she mentioned “budget season”, maybe she’ll remember that when she’s stuffing her purse.

  • What a truly awful idea. I don’t think police brutality is an issue in schools. I think shooters are the issue there, and I’ve been grateful not to have to think about arming myself because we have an amazing deputy at our school. Please continue to fund this! Imagine parents thinking of sending their kids back with a pandemic AND no protection against an intruder???

  • SROs are one of the best things this county has going for our students and their relationships with law enforcement. This is aside from the benefit of them being on location when need arises. Don’t mess it up!

  • Time(dot)com (6/5/20):

    ‘Police Do Not Belong in Our Schools.’ Students Are Demanding an End to Campus Cops After the Death of George Floyd

    Student activists across the country are calling for their schools to cut ties with police departments and remove officers from campuses in response to a national uprising against police brutality. And school leaders in Minneapolis and Portland, Ore., have already taken that step.

    While debates over the role of police officers in schools have raged for years, activists say the latest high-profile examples of police violence against black people — the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.,— have fueled the argument that police officers don’t belong in schools.

    The public school board in Minneapolis voted unanimously to terminate its contract with the city’s police department on Tuesday in response to Floyd’s death. “I firmly believe that it is completely unnatural to have police in schools,” school board member Kimberly Caprini said during the meeting, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

    On Thursday, the superintendent of Portland Public Schools said he was “discontinuing” the presence of school resource officers (SROs) and would increase spending on counselors and social workers, the Oregonian reported.

    Advocates for police reform and racial justice are hoping more school districts will follow. “It is a huge, huge, huge moment. It feels unprecedented,” says Jonathan Stith, director of the Alliance for Educational Justice, which advocates for police-free schools.

    He was participating in a Zoom meeting with organizers as the Minneapolis school board voted Tuesday. “We were listening to the vote, and in addition to all the tears that started to flow, there’s this moment where organizers were like, ‘Who’s got next?’” he says. “We’re excited about what is now possible.”

    Stith says the Alliance for Educational Justice is working with organizers in about 20 cities to push their school districts to take similar action, including Philadelphia, Phoenix, Chicago, New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

    School resource officers have been a growing presence in schools over the last two decades — in part as a response to the frequency of school shootings since the 1999 attack at Columbine High School. About 45% of public schools had at least one school resource officer working full-time or part-time on campus during the 2017-18 school year. And 13% had other sworn law enforcement officers working at least part-time, according to the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics. That same year, the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida fueled calls for more school security and proposals to arm teachers.

    Two-thirds of high school students attend a school with at least one police officer, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. And 1.7 million students attend schools with police officers, but no counselors, according to an analysis of federal data by the ACLU.

    But it’s not clear school resource officers actually improve safety. An SRO at Marjory Stoneman Douglas drew fierce criticism for never entering the school building where the shooting was taking place. And other school resource officers have been accused of harming the students they’re meant to protect. In 2015, a video showed a school resource officer in South Carolina tossing a black student out of her desk, dragging her across the classroom and arresting her for refusing to hand over her cell phone. Last year, cameras captured another SRO in a North Carolina middle school slamming an 11-year-old to the ground twice and dragging him along the floor.

  • Law enforcement should remain in our schools. I don’t know of any personal issues that required law enforcement intervention but I can’t help but wonder if that’s because law enforcement IS on campus.

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