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4J school board decides to remove police from its campuses

The board approved 6-1 to extend the contract to no later than Dec. 31.

Posted: Jun 17, 2020 10:02 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2020 10:55 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The 4J school board decided Wednesday night to extend their contract with Eugene police until the district can come up with a new plan -- no later than Dec. 31.

Whatever new plan the district decides on, it will not include sworn officers stationed in 4J schools. 

Some amendments included a 30-day escape clause and a commitment to a robust public input with students, staff, and communities of color about a way forward. 

The plan is to have a draft proposal by Aug. 5 that will not include officers on campus. 

There is also a special board meeting next week to discuss and vote on a resolution about the district's values involving improving equity in the district.

Tuesday night, protesters marched through the streets of downtown Eugene, demanding the 4J school board not renew the contract.

More than 150 protesters gathered at the federal courthouse and listened to speakers before marching through the streets. One of those speakers was board member Martina Shabram. She told protesters point blank that she would not be voting for a contract renewal that provides school resource officers at high school campuses in the district.

"Tomorrow night we have this vote, which means we have a lot of power at this moment that we don't always feel like we have," Shabram said.

Shabram told the crowd data from Dignity Schools, a nonprofit that works to keep children out of prison and in the classroom, shows police officers on campus create more harm than good.

"It's been correlated with lower test scores for students of color, lower graduation rates for students of color, a greater sense of not belonging and being pushed out," Shabram said.

When it comes to the threat school shootings, Shabram said the district needs to invest in school resources like counselors and not school resource officers.

"I want to play the long game when it comes to kids," Shabram said. "I want us to be providing the resources they need in kindergarten, in pre-K, and all the way up."

Others were in support of keeping school resource officers.

"That rapport builds confidence in the school personnel, and it builds relationship with the students," said retired 4J principal Maurie Denner.

Denner said that he has witnessed several situations over the years that show the benefit of school resource officers.

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