At its July 11, 2023 work session, the Golden Valley City Council reviewed a draft Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with the Robbinsdale School District regarding a proposed School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The City and the District had been working together since April 2023 to develop a public safety program at Sandburg Middle School and Robbinsdale Academy – Highview. The District asked the City to consider placing a SRO back in the schools after a two-year hiatus, during which the District ran a separate pilot program.
Approximately half of the cost of the proposed SRO program would be funded by the Safe Schools Levy. The remaining cost would be paid for by the City out of the Police Department budget. The goal is to collaboratively provide public safety and wellness services that support each school’s mission. The District and City will work together to ensure the SRO program achieves the following desired outcomes:
- substantially reduce the number of youth arrested in Robbinsdale schools and referred to the justice system
- improve academic attendance and success by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline practices
- eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in school-based arrests and exclusionary school discipline practices
- provide students with access to services to address underlying needs and promote long-term well-being
- engage in restorative practices and approaches before relying on punitive interventions
- create wellness for Sandburg and Highview community members by providing trauma-informed wellness services
- increase community member, specifically student, sense of safety in school buildings by providing data-informed safety services
The services will also be consistent with the District’s adoption of Minnesota’s School-Based Diversion Model (SBDM). This student-centered plan aims to keep youth from entering the criminal justice system due to arrests at school. It acknowledges that:
- every youth should have the opportunity to reach their full academic potential, which requires that school environments be safe and nurturing for all
- disruptive and unsafe student behavior can be addressed in inclusionary, effective ways
- typically, practices of school-based arrests are inherently exclusionary, and their use and overuse among some student demographics, such as students of color and students with disabilities, can lead to negative educational and social-emotional outcomes for youth
The draft agreement includes a partnership with the Legal Rights Center, with whom the District has an existing relationship. In addition to the draft document, the Council also considered a position letter from the City's Police Employment Accountability and Community Engagement (PEACE) Commission, which included the Commission’s research and recommendations on the role of a SRO in the schools.
The City Council directed City staff to continue working with the School District to finalize an agreement for review at its August 2, 2023 meeting.