As a member of the Winona school board, I made the motion to terminate the contract between the Winona Area Public Schools and the Winona Police Department for a school resource officer (SRO).

I made this motion based on my experiences as a public defender handling juvenile cases in southeastern Minnesota. I made the motion after carefully reading the contract which described outdated policing practices for the SRO. It was a time for change, and change could come about only if we shed the past and created a space into which new knowledge and practices could be applied.

I disagree with the editorial "Districts may regret booting school cops" (June 26).

I did not make the motion in the belief that now schools would lack a safety plan. In fact, schools including Winona have done extensive safety planning. Winona's safety plan includes staffing other than SROs.

Winona has four nonuniformed safety officers who are employed by the school district. At least two of these officers are on duty and generally can be found in the open areas of the high school during the school day observing activity, engaging students in conversation, and when necessary, intervening in conflicts. Winona employs tools such as ASIS and trauma-informed intervention, and trains non-police staff in these.

Safety was, is and will be a foremost concern of school districts in Minnesota, including Winona. Schools are prepared to go forward without SROs.

I heard from many members of the public, and most urged us to terminate the contract. These letters reflected an enormous intelligence about the issues surrounding student learning, educational psychology, individual and group behavior, and policing. Many writers explained how an authoritarian or "warrior" policing model was not a good fit for education. Others discussed how the youth mind responded to the school environment, and how students did not learn when violence or fear were used to control the school space.

I did not hear, and do not believe, that the Winona police were bad people or that we did not need good policing in our community. What I understood was that a uniformed police officer was not a good fit for the routines of a school day.

One reason that police are not a good fit is that crime is not common during school or at school activities. Yes, there are discipline issues that are regularly handled by school staff, including the safety officers. But contrary to widespread belief, discipline issues do not frequently lead to either criminal or juvenile charges. Discipline is addressed solely within the school system and typically does not require police or prosecutorial involvement.

Winona will proceed to modify its safety plan. The school district has the opportunity to discuss this with law enforcement and this discussion has already begun. The police will continue to be in the community and will be on call to the schools just as they are on call to all people and businesses living in Winona. Police will continue to be in the schools as parents, as friends and as peace officers, but will not be there every day.

The schools will be safer as we use better means to create a positive social and emotional environment for students.

Karl Sonneman is an attorney and member of the Winona school board.