UPDATE: The Rochester School Board's study session about school resource officers will take place at 5 p.m.
The relationship between the Rochester Police Department and the Rochester School District will be up for discussion as the two groups meet Tuesday.
The school board is hosting a study session on the use of school resource officers. Police presence in schools has been a public issue since George Floyd's death in May. The school district will live stream the meeting from its YouTube Channel starting at 5 p.m.
Representatives from the police department will include Chief Jim Franklin, Capt. Jeff Stilwell, as well as some of the individual resource officers. Stilwell said the meeting will include a presentation about the resource officers’ duties in the district.
“I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about what we do in the schools,” Stilwell said. “I think we have a really good story to tell; I think people, after they hear it, will be able to make an informed decision about what exactly is happening in the relationship between the Rochester school system and the Rochester Police Department.”
Email from W.C. Jordan Jr.:
The use of school resource officers has come under some scrutiny in recent months and has been the source of frequent questions at school board candidate forums. There are no current plans to end the program, but several candidates have indicated they do not support having officers in the schools.
In July, school board member Mark Schleusner said the district should consider whether the SRO program is worth its cost in light of some of the criticism it's gained. The Post Bulletin received several letters to the school board about the topic through a public data request.
One of them was from W.C. Jordan of the Rochester NAACP. While acknowledging that "many of the SROs have a great reputation for building relationships with students," he also described what he sees as the dangers of the program.
One of the critiques of the program is that it disproportionately affects students of color.
“Today, we wish to advocate for actions that can help eliminate the school to prison pipeline that is a reality and that disproportionately affects black and brown students,” Jordan said. “We are also asking that you consider other safety alternatives out of concern for the impact of the mental trauma many students of color, especially African American students, feel after seeing years of mistreatment of people of color by the police.”
Earlier this year, the school district approved an updated contract with the police department to add a sixth resource officer to the program. In exchange for the services, the district pays the city a little more than $33,000 a month.
The school resource officer program has been active in Rochester for more than 30 years, according to Stilwell.
Email and discussion between Kristin Troff Pavek, RPS Superintendent Michael Munoz and RPS Board Chair Deborah Seelinger:
Email from Jessica Garcia:
Email from Kristin Troff Pavek: