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Minneapolis Board of Education votes to kick police out of public schools over George Floyd’s death

Donated supplies for local families are piled up at a school in Minneapolis. (Auguste Bernick)

The Minneapolis Board of Education, reacting to the killing of George Floyd in police custody, is terminating its longtime contract with the city’s police department to provide security in school buildings.

The panel voted unanimously late Tuesday to end its relationship with the department, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Minnesota state government that Gov. Tim Walz (D) said is designed to root out “systemic racism that is generations deep.”

The city’s school board held a special virtual business meeting Tuesday solely to discuss its contract with the police in reaction killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died while handcuffed and being held down on the ground by officers, with a knee pushed down on his neck.

I firmly believe that it is completely unnatural to have police in schools,” Kimberly Caprini, treasurer of the board, said during the discussion. She added that schools that have close relationships with their school resource officers who are officers could continue them with after-school activities, “but not to the degree” that has existed for years.

Police officials did not respond Wednesday to queries about the board’s decision, but Deputy Chief Erick Fors said in a Tuesday statement quoted by Minneapolis media outlets: “The Minneapolis Police Department appreciated the opportunity to provide years of service to the Minneapolis Public Schools through the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The relationships that were built were impactful not only for the students and staff, but for the officers who had a calling to work with our youth through mentorship and engagement. We will continue to work in cooperation with the Minneapolis Public Schools regarding safety and security issues."

School District Superintendent Ed Graff said on social media that he would engage with students, staff and families over the summer to get input for a new security arrangement for the next school year.

During the meeting, Nathaniel Genene, the student representative on the Board of Education, said he had solicited the opinions of students about their priorities for when school reopens, and he said they want to see, among other things, increased access to mental-health care, restorative justice practices and the hiring of more nurses, social workers and teachers of color.

“While actions taken tonight by the board will not in any way directly result in justice for George Floyd and his family,” he said, “it will show that real … change is possible.”