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La Crosse School District suspends school resource officer memorandum of understanding, cites citizen harassment

Kaitlyn Riley

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The La Crosse School District announced Thursday it cannot enter into a new school resource officer (SRO) memorandum of understanding until it has written assurances that the district and members of the SRO advisory committee will not face harassment and intimidation from law enforcement.

In December, the School District of La Crosse released a school resource officer (SRO) program evaluation report identifying a number of actions to be taken for the SRO program to continue. These recommendations included the implementation of an SRO advisory committee made up of community members. The school board accepted the report with the understanding that these recommendations would be codified in a new SRO memorandum of understanding (MOU.)

A recent incident with Joella Striebel, a woman who was selected to oversee a Citizen Police Advisory Committee by the Criminal Justice Management Council cast the district in doubt. Striebel said private pictures were taken from her social media account and shared on a police union Facebook page, calling into question her credibility. She said the post was shared before it was removed and resulted in threats and harassment.

La Crosse Schools Superintendent Aaron Engel and School Board President Laurie Cooper Stoll released the following statement Thursday:

“The School District of La Crosse is deeply concerned by the recent harassment and intimidation of La Crosse resident Joella Striebel who served on the La Crosse County Criminal Justice Management Council (CJMC). No community member, let alone one who strives to fulfill a civic duty in service to us all, should have their safety endangered in this way.

The actions against a member of the CJMC and efforts to prevent the creation of a police oversight committee call into question whether the School District of La Crosse can fulfill the recommendations of the district’s SRO program evaluation report without endangering the members of the SRO advisory committee and school district employees.”

The school board and district administration said they are committed to public transparency regarding the SRO program. The district said it will require written assurances and steps outlined to ensure employees of the school district and members of the SRO advisory committee will not face harassment and intimidation for providing oversight of the program. Until that time, the School District of La Crosse will not enter into a new SRO memorandum of understanding.


FULL STATEMENT

LA CROSSE, Wis., (March 24, 2021) – In December, the School District released an SRO Program Evaluation Report identifying a number of actions that would be taken if the SRO program were to continue. These recommendations included the implementation of an SRO Advisory Committee made up of community members. The School Board accepted the report with the understanding that these recommendations would be codified in a new SRO Memorandum of Agreement.

The School District of La Crosse is deeply concerned by the harassment and intimidation of Joella Striebel who served on the La Crosse County Criminal Justice Management Council. No community member, let alone one who strives to fulfill a civic duty in service to us all, should have their safety endangered in this way. The actions against a member of the CJMC and efforts to prevent the creation of a police oversight committee call into question whether the School District can fulfill the recommendations of the report without endangering the members of the SRO Advisory Committee and School District employees.

The School Board and Administration are committed to public transparency regarding the SRO program. Until written assurances are made and steps outlined to ensure that employees of the School District and members of the SRO Advisory Committee will not face harassment and intimidation for providing oversight of the program, the School District of La Crosse cannot enter into a new SRO Memorandum of Agreement. The current MOU remains in place through June 2021.

END


Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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