The Minneapolis, Minn. Board of Education is "quietly" hiring "public safety support specialists" (PSSS) after the Board unanimously voted in June to cancel its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department in response to the killing of George Floyd.
According to a news report, the security officers won't be "cops, but are required to have law enforcement degrees and experience. Their list of responsibilities include breaking up fights, monitoring security at events, and providing “a bridge between in-school intervention and law enforcement.” The district plans to pay PSSS $65,695-$85,790, adds the news report.
However, recently, more than 100 Minneapolis teachers and families rallied in the parking lot outside the Davis Center, the district headquarters, "to protest the hiring – without prior warning – of what they suspect will be “rent-a-cops” with even less accountability than licensed police officers," says the news report.
The teacher’s union, concerned students and parents, have two demands: stop the PSSS hiring process, and involve the public on how school security will be reconstructed, says the report.
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) responded by admitting they were hiring for PSSS on "an accelerated schedule to ensure we have staff onboard and extensively trained prior to the first day of school this fall.
According to a statement, these positions are part of a two-step plan that will be presented to the Board of Education on August 18. Step 1 -- which includes hiring 11 additional people into these positions for the 20-21 school year, and Step 2 -- a longer-term more comprehensive plan that will allow for more thorough planning and community engagement over the next year.
These new staff members will not be an extension of the discipline/enforcement systems of the past, says MPS. Instead, they say, PSSS will:
• Be an asset for schools in regards to planning and response to incidents that threaten the safety of students and staff;
• Be rooted in the core district priorities of Equity, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS);
• Work in collaboration with schools to continue to dismantle the white supremacist culture MPS operates under; and
• Ensure MPS continues to deconstruct the school to prison pipeline.