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New Duluth Superintendent hopes to continue to the conversation of SRO’s into the school year

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DULUTH, MN -- The role of school resource officers continues to be a conversation across the state as some districts are eliminating the police presence from their buildings, following the death of George Floyd.

In Duluth, former students, parents and community members are hoping the school board follows that trend.

"No student should feel unsafe in their own school and right now the existence of SRO's in schools makes some students feel unsafe, and we believe that replacing that position with a less punitive position would make some students feel safer overall," said Mya Halverson, Denfeld alumni and one of several students who started a petition to remove SRO's from Duluth public schools.

"A lot of what we've heard from students and parents is they are looking for someone who can fulfill more of the role of a social worker or counselor. Someone who is able to fill that role without having the negative associations that a police officer can have," Halverson said.

As of Wednesday, the petition has more than 1,170 signatures and has landed the issue in front of the Duluth School Board.

The board will vote sometime soon on the $230,000 contract with the Duluth Police Department.

New Superintendent John Magas said he is hoping the conversation on this role continues through the upcoming school year.

"This is a very very important conversation and if we don't have the time to have that deep conversation in a meaningful way right now, it's important for us to fully commit to having that conversation throughout the year," Magas said.

He said he wants to look at things like training and other policies and not just the issue of keeping of getting rid of the SRO's.

"It's not just the SRO policy. We have to think about how we look at how law enforcement interaction is with students. We are looking at a wide variety of policies for the district to make sure we have the most equitable and supportive practice as possible," Magas said.

Ultimately, the school board will decide, but some students say policy changes are not enough.

"We didn't write the petition saying we wanted reform, we said we wanted SRO's removed from schools," Halverson said.

Duluthh School Board chair, Jill Lofald said the SRO contract might not be ready for them to vote on during their meeting on July 21st.

If that's the case they welcome more input from the community.

If you would like to view that petition click here.

Natalie Grant

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