Petition Calls For Resource Officers Be Removed From Duluth Public Schools

School Boards in Minneapolis and Portland have already taken up discussions to pull resource officers out of the schools.

DULUTH, Minn. – A petition has now been started by several former Duluth Public School students.

Those students want the school board to dismiss the district’s relationship with the Duluth Police Department.

The petition is also demanding all resource officers be removed from the city’s public schools.

There are now four resource officers in Duluth Public Schools.

The petition outlines what the students believe are problems created because of police presence in the schools.

“In the wake of George Floyd and other tragic events, there need to be drastic changes made,” said Duluth School Board’s Student Representative Phoenix Ocean.

One issue high on the list is concern that students of color are disciplined differently than their caucasian peers.

“I feel like they use the officers to watch us and monitor us, specifically,” said former Denfeld High School student Jaylah Willis. “They just want to calm them down in a certain type of way. I don’t feel like that’s needed. I don’t think police officers should be there to intimidate or try to calm down people of color.”

Students of other races are joining the efforts saying they understand this pain. They believe removing SROs could help push things in a better direction.

“I am trying to use my privilege to help raise their voices up so they can have a chance to make changes. I am going to try to make as many changes as I can,” said Ocean.

A multi-year contract for school resource officers is scheduled to be up for re-negotiation next month.

School Board Chair Jill Lofald says this petition will drive the board to re-evaluate the purpose of having officers in the schools.

“I think it is a time for us to reflect and listen to the voices that are sharing their stories and giving honest communication to the board.

The district spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the use of school officers.

The petition calls for that money to be spent in other ways instead.

So far, the petition has received nearly 150 signatures.

“There are so many people who see the harm or potential harm that this position can provide in the school. We see the need to add more support for students that are less negative,” said Petition Organizer

Those involved in circulating the petition hope, instead of having school resource officers, the board could bring in more mental health professionals and social workers to help students during their time at a Duluth Public School.

The Duluth School Board is expected to revisit the SRO contract during their board meeting on July 7th.

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