MPS to vote on terminating contract with Milwaukee Police Department

MILWAUKEE -- The officer-involved death of George Floyd has sparked conversations about change and reform across the U.S. Locally, Milwaukee Public Schools is now taking a stand when it comes to its relationship with the Milwaukee Police Department.

Racial inequalities, police departments and their roles in the community are just a few issues now at the forefront across the country.

Angela Harris

"We felt like now more than ever was a time to dig our heels in and have this conversation," Angela Harris, a first grade teacher with Milwaukee Public Schools and chair of the Black Educators Caucus, said.

Harris said her organization is calling for MPS to cut ties with the police department.

"It's exciting. We finally have this resolution on the table that the board is actually going to vote on terminating this contract," said Harris.

The draft includes terminating all contracts with MPD for the services of school resource officers. Additionally, Harris said, contracts to buy or maintain criminalizing equipment -- like metal detectors -- would come to an end. She said MPS pays $487,000 to the police department for six officers who are specially trained to respond to incidents and special events at schools -- and that needs to stop.

Milwaukee police outside Bradley Tech High School

"This is a job they already do, and so we shouldn't have to engage in a contract with MPD -- not a monetary contract at the very least," Harris said. "We would like to see the things they do now continue after the contract is terminated. We think it's important for police officers to build relationships with students, to find community within school."

Not only does she want to see a shift in what society looks like, Harris has thoughts on where she would like to see the money go instead.

"We definitely want to see anti-biased, anti-racist professional development ongoing for educators throughout the years, fully resourced and supported by the district," said Harris. "We want the district to develop a black and ethnic studies curriculum beginning in kindergarten through high school."

Milwaukee police outside Riverside University High School

The community also has the opportunity to have its voice heard; virtual testimony can be submitted which will be taken live during an MPS meeting next Thursday, June 18.

For details on how to submit testimony, CLICK HERE. To look at the full resolution, CLICK HERE.

FOX6 News reached out to the Milwaukee Police Department for comment, they said: "We will continue to support MPS and MPS students."

Statement from Larry Miller, president of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors

"I support the resolution put forward by Milwaukee Public Schools Board Representatives Phillips and Taylor, calling for ending contracts with the Milwaukee Police Department and deepening student centered policies adopted in the 2015 Black Lives Matter resolution. I have called for a Special Meeting of the Board to be held June 18, 2020 at 5:30 P.M., for the resolution to be heard.

"As eight of the MPS School Board members said in a June 5th statement, “… our schools and classrooms must be safe spaces for dialogue, listening to students, and support on the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. We have a responsibility to end the school-to-prison pipeline and ensure that the curriculum is anti-racist and culturally relevant.”

"In that statement, we also stated, “…we call upon the Milwaukee Police Department to publicly renounce the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and other aggressive measures against peaceful protesters exercising their first amendment rights.” The history of policing in Milwaukee requires the same scrutiny and deep structural changes being proposed in Minneapolis and in other cities and states.

"I support the freedom marchers in Milwaukee, across the state, the nation, and around the world. MPS students, staff, parents, and Board members, have joined the marches and proudly carried the banner of “Black Lives Matter,” opposing police brutality and calling for ending systems of oppression.

"Saving funding from police contracts will help the district to better support students by providing more nurses, psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, and mental health and trauma specialists. However, we recognize that the amount of savings will fall far short of the funding needed by our schools to meet our students’ needs, but it is a start in the right direction. It is time for all to get involved in demanding the level of investment our children deserve."