PHOENIX - Officials with the Phoenix Union High School District say they will not re-sign an annual agreement the school district has with the City of Phoenix for School Resource Officers.
"As the district responsibly yet courageously addresses two pandemics, racism and COVID-19, [Superintendent] Dr. [Chad] Gestson said that this is the right time for PXU to revisit and even rethink school safety," read a portion of a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
In the same statement, school district officials say the 2020-2021 school year will see even more campus closures and remote learning, and as a result, there will be a reduced need for day-to-day school safety measures, including the use of law enforcement.
"Phoenix Union will use off-duty officers, as and when needed, to assist with required law enforcement notifications, campus and community safety needs, and other mandatory reporting issues. Officers will be assigned to the district, not to schools," read a portion of the statement.
The decision, according to school district officials, will result in significant budget savings.
"We will use most of that money to train our security personnel to make sure that when we return for the '21 and '22 school year, that our campus safety and security team is as well trained and ready to keep campus is a safe as possible in the future," said Dr. Gestson, in a video.
In addition, school district officials will also allocate $1.2 million to three separate, yet complementary participatory budgeting process that will involve staff, students, and parents.
According to the Phoenix Union High School District's website, 81.7% of its students are Hispanic.
Calls for end to partnership intensify following George Floyd's death
In the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minnesota and subsequent national controversy over racial inequality and police brutality, there have been calls for partnerships between schools and police departments to end.
In Seattle, FOX 10 sister station KCPQ-TV reported in June that a partnership between Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Police Department will be suspended for one year.
In early June, FOX 10 sister station WTTG-TV reported that school officials in Maryland's Prince George's County are considering a proposal to remove police from the county's public schools.
Not all school districts, however, have voted to remove police officers from schools. In late June, FOX 10 sister station WFLD-TV reported that Chicago's Board of Education voted against removing police officers from schools across the city.
Former school board member speaks out following announcement
On Tuesday, FOX 10 spoke with a parent who said the district did not make the right call.
Randy Schiller, a former school board member who is also the parent of a child in the district, says the decision takes away support and a security blanket for students.
"In my opinion, the School Resource Officer’s first off these officers that want to be on schools. These are not officers that are being forced by their precinct or their cities to be put into the schools. They apply to get in because they want to work with kids," said Schiller.
Phoenix Union High School District Participatory Budgeting