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Safety and security work moves to superintendent's advisory committee

Safety and security work moves to superintendent's advisory committee

Madison East (copy)

Madison East High School students walk through a hallway at the end of the school day in 2019.

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The next steps for safety and security changes in the Madison Metropolitan School District will be in the budget and a superintendent-led committee.

The School Board voted unanimously Monday in a special meeting to accept 16 recommendations from the Safety and Security Ad Hoc Committee, created shortly after the board voted last summer to remove school resource officers from high schools.

Recommendations are focused on expanding the use of restorative justice, including additional staff positions, but also include creating review processes for when police are called and reducing class sizes to improve relationship-building.

“These recommendations are not a total and complete solution to our needs,” said board member Savion Castro, who led the ad hoc committee. “It’s going to take the commitment of all of us over years to right these wrongs.”

[Madison School Board: Urgency needed on reducing discipline disproportionalities]

Castro will sit on the superintendent’s advisory committee that will continue the work and serve as a liaison with other board members. Staff are expected to provide a bimonthly report on the progress of policy and budget considerations related to the recommendations.

Board member Cris Carusi stressed the importance of that communication and the board’s involvement in the progress, citing her and colleague Ali Muldrow’s experience on a superintendent advisory committee about the Behavior Education Plan that did not provide enough transparency to the board or community.

“The board has to be actively engaged about moving this district toward restorative justice for that work to succeed,” Carusi said.

The 2021-22 budget process is currently underway, and the board is expected to discuss some of the budget implications of the recommendations during an operations work group next month.

Some on the ad hoc committee were disappointed the group concluded its work in December, but board president Gloria Reyes stressed the importance of timeliness given the budget process. All of the group’s members will be invited to take part in the superintendent’s advisory committee.

Reyes, who will leave the board in April when her term expires, said she does not want to see history repeat itself as people put off action on solving the racial disparities in discipline in the district.

“I’m confident we have a leader, we have the board members, we have the staff to move us forward," Reyes said. “We have to get this right.”

[Safety and security group recommendations a 'first step,' School Board to discuss more next month]

Superintendent Carlton Jenkins praised the committee’s work and said this was an opportunity for the community to get involved in improving the climate and culture of the district’s schools for students.

“This has to be work done with the people and by the people,” Jenkins said.

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.

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