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La Crosse School Board could form committee Monday to review police’s School Resource Officer program

Rick Solem

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The first school board meeting for new La Crosse Schools superintendent Aaron Engel, who is six days into the job.

On Monday night’s agenda, basically forming a committee to look into the School Resource Officer (SRO) program through the police department.

The 6 p.m. board meeting can be viewed here.

According to the agenda, the formation of the Ad Hoc Fund 80 Committee would:

  1. Synthesize questions from School Board Members regarding Fund 80, in particular, the School Resource Officer Program.
  2. Compile a list of stakeholders identified by School Board Members to solicit input on Fund 80, in particular, the School Resource Officer Program.

Members would be Dawn Comeau, Pelli Lee, Shaundel Spivey and Laurie Cooper Stoll (convener). They would serve a three-week term (July 6-27).

The $250,000 contract with the La Crosse Police Department ends in June of 2021. The police department and La Crosse Schools have had a relationship since 1993.

But, back in mid-June, school board president Laurie Cooper Stoll questioned whether the SRO program should be renewed — whether it was actually a benefit to students and worth the cost.

“If we believe that it’s a safety issue,” Cooper Stoll said June 18 on La Crosse Talk PM, “we need to take account of the fact that there is no compelling empirical evidence that shows that officers in schools make those schools safer, but there’s compelling evidence that they make them less safe for black and brown students.”

Cooper Stoll reiterated on WIZM that evening that the board was in information-gathering mode.

“I want to be clear about process here first,” she said. “Things come before the board as information items, which is what happened at the board meeting this past week. Then they would come forward as an action item. On the board agenda, for our next meeting, would be to see whether or not there is a consensus on the board to form a subcommittee to try to get to the bottom of some of these questions.”

As for Engel, the superintendent is on board with looking at data and hearing from students, faculty and parents.

“One of my great interests and goals is equity within education,” Engel said June 22 on La Crosse Talk PM. “I want to make sure that those students, who’ve been historically marginalized, who might have a unique experience that’s not typically prioritized, is lifted, as we move into this discussion.”

Recently, Winona Area Public Schools ended its relationship with police, as did Madison and Milwaukee.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM and "liberal hack" | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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