DENVER — This summer, Denver Public Schools will begin to discuss if school resource officers should remain in its schools.
On Tuesday evening, At-Large Director on the Denver School Board Tay Anderson, said members of DPS, including DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova, will meet on the steps of West High School to announce “the future of Denver Public Schools and the Denver Police Department” at 9 a.m. on Friday. He made the announcement on Twitter.
Anderson said he, along with Denver School Board Vice President Jennifer Bacon, will hold community meetings this summer to gather public input on a drafted resolution that would end the intergovernmental agreement with the City and County of Denver in connection to police in schools.
Anderson said their goal is to bring in full-time nurses, counselors and restorative practices.
He concluded the announcement by writing that schools will no longer be ground zero for the school-to-prison pipeline.
In October 2019, shortly before he won the election for at-large director on the school board, Anderson said he thought funding for school resource officers, or SROs, should end, and the funds should be used to hire more mental health counselors. He said he had talked to dozens of students who supported this move.
“I’m hearing directly from kids that they think that their school resource officer has good intentions and that they’re good people however, they do not believe that they are serving the student’s well-being in the building,” he told Denver7 in October.
As of then, DPS had 18 officers in 18 schools.
In response, Denver Police Department Division Chief Ron Thomas said SROs often work with mental health counselors. Removing the SROs would not give the district a big boost in funding for mental health counselors, Thomas said.
“I certainly think that mental health is important but what I think is maybe misunderstood is that the school district already pays $30 million for mental health and the budget for the school resource officers is only $700,000,” he said in October.
Anderson emphasized that funding is a small part of a larger issue.
Shortly after Anderson posted on Twitter Tuesday evening, the Minneapolis school board voted to end its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department following the May 25 death of George Floyd, according to the Associated Press. The superintendent is tasked with deciding upon a new plan for school safety by Aug. 18.