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SRO contract

The Madison School Board passed up the first of two deadlines in a contract to reduce the number of school resource officers from four to three.

With a first deadline to reduce the number of school-based police officers passed, all four Madison high schools will have an officer stationed there through the end of 2020.

The Madison School Board decided to forgo the Sept. 15 deadline to reduce the number of school resource officers, or SROs, from four to three, which would have taken effect at the end of the current school year.

A three-year contract to continue the controversial program of stationing police officers inside the city’s four main high schools — East, La Follette, Memorial and West — was narrowly approved on a 4-3 vote by the School Board this summer.

As part of the new contract, two deadlines were built in to remove an officer from one of the four high schools with the intent of acting as a pilot program.

In a statement, School Board President Gloria Reyes said: “We believe we need more time to discuss that option, and will return to that discussion at the next deadline set forth in the contract.”

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If the School Board wants to pilot a high school without an officer, it will need to act by the second deadline in the contract, June 10, which would remove an officer after the fall semester of the 2020-21 school year.

The contract runs through the 2021-22 school year.

Reyes said if the option is exercised, it will need to be done in “the most thoughtful and comprehensive way possible” and require careful planning on what an alternate model to having an SRO would look like at a high school without the officer.

For more than two years, opponents of SROs urged the board to end the program outright, arguing students of color are disproportionately cited and arrested by the officers. After months of closed-session discussions among School Board members, the board ultimately approved the contract in June.

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