School District of Lacrosse
lacrosse sro

Lacrosse (Wis.) board votes to phase out police presence in schools

Dec. 24, 2020
Administrators decided that officers' presence in schools negatively affected marginalized students.

The La Crosse (Wis.) school board has voted to phase police out of its schools, after deciding officers' presence negatively affected marginalized students.

The Lacrosse Tribune report that police officers will no longer be regularly in school buildings, and the district will begin reducing the number of Lacrosse police officers it employs through to its School Resource Officer (SRO) program over the next two years.

The decision comes after a district evaluation of the program found SROs contribute to the over-criminalization of students of color and the school-to-prison pipeline.

“We definitely have to do better for our students, specifically Black and brown … racially diverse youth in this district, because we have done some damage,” said school board member Shaundel Spivey.

The new recommendations will be carried out “immediately,” superintendent Aaron Engel said, though details will still need to be ironed out.

The number of officers in La Crosse schools will be reduced from five to three beginning July 2021, and down to two in July 2022. It is the long-term goal of the district to need a police liaison in schools only occasionally..”

The price of the SRO program will be reduced from $244,000 to $150,000 for the 2021-22 school year, and to $100,000 for the 2022-23 school year.

In addition to reducing police presence, the board approved a shift away from punitive measures when disciplining students, and more funding for social workers and therapeutic and restorative practices.

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