The Hopkins school board on Tuesday night embraced a student-led call to remove police from Hopkins High School — with the action to come at year’s end.
The 6-1 vote brings a suburban voice to a national movement that has sought to end the use of school resource officers, or SROs.
“When police are in our schools, students of color are denied an opportunity to succeed,” said Muna Musse, a 2020 graduate of Hopkins High.
Musse, a Somali American, was one of four students tapped by Superintendent Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed to recommend whether the district should continue contracting with Minnetonka police in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
The group researched the issue and polled their peers, earning gratitude from Board Chairwoman Jen Bouchard. Board Member Steve Adams, however, said that he believed it was wrong to base a decision in part on the results of a poll that drew responses from just 183 of nearly 1,600 Hopkins High students.
He said he had heard from parents and staff members who believe the school will be less safe.
But Elliot Berman, one of the four students who reviewed the $113,142 contract, said it was jarring for kids to see someone with a gun in school: “What are we designing and manufacturing in our student scholars’ minds?” he said. “Are they there to learn or are they there to be traumatized?”
This summer, urban districts have been the focus of much of the action involving resource officers.
But four years ago, Intermediate School District 287, a multidistrict cooperative that includes Hopkins, began phasing out the use of SROs. For three years, it has instead used a set of employees known as student safety coaches.
The coaches are trained to de-escalate disruptive behavior and cultivate relationships with students — approaches now being pursued in the Minneapolis and St. Paul districts.
Chris LaTondresse, vice chairman of the Hopkins school board, said Tuesday that he did not view the vote as being about abolishing police. Instead, he said, it was about being able to steer scarce resources to uses such as student mental health supports and building a positive school climate.