Shaun Laden, ESP President
Minneapolis Federation of Teachers
Statement about Public Safety Support Specialist
Over the past few months MFT has been very vocal about SROs in our schools and the importance of authentically engaging school communities around what safety in schools should look like. Our members have been meeting about this weekly since the beginning of the summer and have shared many concerns around the 11 additional Public Safety Support Specialist positions that the district has hired for.
Many of our concerns rest in the posted job description and application process and engagement process. While we have subsequently learned that candidates without the stated law enforcement degree were considered from the applicant pool, we believe the original posting’s requirements unnecessarily discouraged potential applicants from applying.
The district has stated several times that this position will need to be able to make authentic connections with students and understand the impacts of trauma and institutional racism but these important functions are not in the job description.
MFT leadership and members agree that this position should be someone who has strong roots in these communities, be a team leader who can work with school staff to problem solve safety and climate problems, and help to create and maintain systems that create a better school climate.
While we appreciate the steps the District has taken to share more information and invite more stakeholders into a second interview, we still have unanswered questions we believe need to be addressed:
How will these positions play a role in addressing the systemic racism that is imbedded in our district?
Why does the job description not reflect the values and experience that are required to authentically keep our students safe?
How will the district change its decision making process moving forward, to include all stakeholders from the beginning?
The immediate need to fill these positions feels rushed since we will be providing education through a distance learning model, so we urge the district to rethink its timeline and engage more people in this process.
Also, it is important to continue to state that until the District views real shared decision making power with community and staff members as a core value, problems like this will continue to occur. Engagement in decision making processes is necessary for communities to believe in the process and outcomes that the District’s work produces.
Viewing students, families, and staff as essential members of the decision making processes of our district is a large philosophical change that is required to build the trust necessary to make good on the promises of the opportunities that lie ahead.
We expect that moving forward that Minneapolis Public Schools does a better job at engaging all stakeholders from the beginning, providing better transparency around these processes and slowing down to allow for authentic input from our school communities.