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The Scroll

The Student News Site of Fargo North High School

The Scroll

The Scroll

Moorhead Public Schools remove SROs on the first day


Moorhead parents sent their kids to their first day of school on Aug. 24 and were told that School Resource Officers, also known as SROs, were being removed from all Moorhead schools. This came after Governor Tim Walz signed an education bill in May that included a clause prohibiting school-based resource officers from using specific physical restraints on kids, such as the prone restraint and “comprehensive restraint on the head, neck, and across most of the torso.” Moorhead Police Chief Shannon Monroe confirmed that said law was the reason for the police department’s decision to remove SROs this school year.
“Until a solution is identified—and the more than 30-year-old collaboration with Moorhead Area Public Schools can be resumed—the City of Moorhead Police Department has reassigned its School Resource Officers back to patrol duty,” the department said in a message; “These officers will be available to respond to calls for services in the city, including our schools. Even with these changes, school safety is still a top priority. The current changes in state law do not affect officers who respond to our public schools.”
The statute previously said that officers “may use reasonable force when it is necessary under the circumstances to restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another.” The new state law is a two-word change, replacing the ‘or’ with ‘to’.
There is concern that SROs would have to wait until right before someone was harmed to engage. However, Attorney General Keith Ellison advised they just need to avoid the restraints specified, which already aligns with many schools’ policies regarding student restraint.
Moorhead parents expressed concern for increased violence in their schools without SROs present. Fargo North SRO, Officer Nick Powell-Calhoun responded to this saying: “I know that I do a lot of mitigating, so that puts some of that burden on the people around, like the admin staff. The teachers might have to do more. So if anything it shifts more responsibility onto other people’s plates.”
According to Powell-Calhoun, “The most important part [of the job] is keeping the acronym true, being a resource to the school. That’s everybody in the building, out of the building, and associated.”
Unfortunately for Moorhead, this year the acronym is gone and it leaves concern in Moorhead parents. “I do honestly hope that they figure something out and they get it taken care of so they can have [SROs] back in the school so we can feel a little bit more protected, for my kid’s safety,” said parent Katie Gast, in an article for KSTP-TV.
Another parent, Desiree Littleghost, said “I don’t think it would make a difference if they were here or not.”
Moorhead parent Salina Artley, on the other hand, said that “It makes me wonder, if there is a gun threat, how long is it going to take for the police department to be on-site and actually take care of the issue, versus them having officers on school grounds at all times.”
Approachable and competent SROs, as well as trust between the officers and the students, are necessary for effective operation. Fargo North has had some turnover of SROs after Officer Chad Moen finished his rotation at North. Now we have Powell-Calhoun, who is described as “a big teddy bear.” Students feel safer when they have another outlet or resource in the school, according to Powell-Calhoun. Students like senior Briana Jaquez agree that’s true, adding she feels safer with him here.
“He is the exact opposite of what modern culture will tell you what cops are like,” said Student Success Advisor, Mathieu Merideth.
In response to the Minnesota law, Powell-Calhoun said that he doesn’t always need to use force when students are threatening themselves, others, or himself. Fargo Public Schools policy prevents staff from restraint unless the student is engaging in “dangerous behavior” and only staff trained in restraints would use them.
It’s clear that this is something that is going to affect the Moorhead community and how the school system operates. The lack of SROs brings up valid questions on what happens next, and as of now, not many people know. For Moorhead parents, the best thing to do now is to try to educate their children in case something goes wrong, as well as bring any questions or concerns to the Moorhead Police Department, Moorhead Public Schools, or Governor Tim Walz.

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Grace Schmidt
Grace Schmidt, Writer
Hi! I'm Grace and this is my second year in journalism! I want to continue in college and in the future! It's been one of the best experiences of my life. I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan and even went to her concert, which was life altering. Currently I am in a fight to get the Spartan Scroll funding.
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