MYC Statement on school staff use of restraint methods
September 15, 2023
September 14, 2023
Contact: Jordan Greer, Minnesota Youth Council Director
Minneapolis, MN—The Minnesota Youth Council believes that all students have a right to a school environment that is safe and welcoming. As a group of lawmakers and Chiefs of Police in Minnesota calling for the Governor to call a special session to address new guidance around the conduct of Student Resource Officers in schools, the youth leaders of the Minnesota Youth Council stand strongly in support of the language on school staff use of restraint methods as introduced and passed in the 2023-24 legislative session.
The Minnesota Youth Council, a legislatively-created group of young people tasked with providing guidance to the state legislature and the Governor on issues impacting young people, does not support the reopening or amending of this law. Reworking Minnesota statute 121A.58 could lead to SROs having less restrictions and causing more harm to students in their communities. This section of law protects, supports, and addresses the safety needs of students in Minnesota by restricting the kinds of holds SROs can use against them. The Council is particularly concerned about the differential experience with SRO’s by students of color compared to their white peers. According to the Urban Institute, “Schools where Black or Latinx students make up at least 80 percent of the students are more likely to have an SRO present on school grounds compared with schools with high concentrations of white students, regardless of income level.” And, while “Black students represented 15 percent of enrolled students but made up more than 30 percent of students who experienced a suspension, expulsion, or school arrest.”
“In schools the presence of SROs is not necessarily viewed as a universal good,” says Minnesota Youth Council member and Minneapolis Washburn High School student Charlie Schmit. “Some students view SROs in a negative way and many students report SROs contribute to increased feelings of stress and fear. This law helps to assure safe school environments by clearly identifying SROs roles in school and hopefully it will lead to further training and discussion to ensure all learning environments for students are safe.”
The Minnesota Youth Council believes that the law clearly outlines how an SRO should intervene in situations of conflict and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s August 22nd letter to MDE Commissioner Jett clarifies this issue even more. Additionally, the Minnesota Youth Council’s Educational Equity Committee recently provided the author of the legislation, Representative Samantha Sencer-Mura, with a feedback letter further expounding on their support of the new guidance.