St. Cloud Schools Superintendent Writes Letter Reassuring Parents, Staff and Students of School Safety After SRO Program Suspension | #schoolsaftey

(KNSI) — The St. Cloud Area School District 742 superintendent wrote a letter to families and staff to reassure everyone about school safety after the severing of the Joint Powers Agreement by the St. Cloud Police Department.

The move comes after the 2023 education bill included language limiting or prohibiting school resource officers from physically intervening, separating fighting students and holding or restraining an aggressor.

The St. Cloud Police Department announced on Friday that it decided to suspend the JPA after much legal consultation until the law can be changed.

Superintendent Dr. Laurie Putnam said in the letter that SROs do much more than step in when there are issues or problems, saying, “They often teach students about personal safety, mentor and support students, and assist with community-related safety issues.” Educational programming provided by the department will also be suspended.

She added, “School safety requires a multi-faceted approach. One of our primary strategies is to build strong connections with our students and families. Other strategies focus on our facilities and grounds and include controlled or monitored entrances, locked doors, screening and monitoring of visitors, visible staff identification, sophisticated camera systems, and supervision throughout our schools. Along with local law enforcement, our priority is student and staff safety. That has not, and will not, change.”

Dr. Putnam explained that police will still provide law enforcement personnel during the school day and at public school-sponsored evening and weekend events when they determine a need for support. That support will look different as officers will likely be in full uniform in the schools and on the grounds.

Attorney General Keith Ellison issued an opinion on the matter after being asked for clarification saying the force used must be reasonable, but now questions are being raised asking what is reasonable, how is it determined, and who determines it.

Governor Tim Walz has been asked to call a special session to deal with the issue as more than a dozen other departments have put their SRO programs on hold. So far, he has refused, which means it won’t be until February when the legislature reconvenes before anything can be done.


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