A parent who says her child was assaulted during a fight Friday at Mankato East High School is speaking out about the need for school resource officers (SROs).
“SROs not being in the schools is not helpful to keeping students safe,” Nashawn Williams said. “I think that removing the SROs from the schools was really a bad idea. I understand the situation that the new laws place the SROs in, and I think it was a really bad idea.”
Mankato East High School went into lockdown Friday morning for about 30 minutes as police responded to the incident. A video of the fight shows Williams’ son on the ground as he is punched and kicked by other students, she said. The school is one of dozens across the state without an SRO on campus this fall in response to a new state law, which restricts the types of restraints that can be used on students who are acting illegally.
Alleged videos from Friday's fight at Mankato East High School. The school was placed on lockdown. There were no school resource officers on campus in response to a new state law. pic.twitter.com/gzGDSFZLOe
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) September 10, 2023
Williams told Alpha News that her son sustained a blood clot in his right eye and damage to his ribcage following the assault last week. She explained that the school recently notified her that the boys involved will be charged with misdemeanor assault.
“Honestly, I feel like charging them with that is a waste of time because this has been going on since the beginning of his eighth-grade year. I’ve been asking to speak with the parents, but nothing has been done,” she told Alpha News.
Williams said having an SRO in school was one of the only reasons her son ever felt safe at school. “He felt like he could talk to the SRO and actually be heard,” she said.
She said the one SRO her son built a relationship with was doing more to try to help her family with the bullying than the district was. “He was trying to help set up parent meetings, but nobody would do anything. The school didn’t notify me about incidents, but the SRO did,” Williams said.
Williams said there has been no word on when or if SROs will return to the schools.
“The legislators need to discuss and address the issue of SROs not being in schools. The safety of all kids is in jeopardy, not just mine,” Williams said. “This is telling all the kids that it’s okay to do pretty much whatever they want to do because the students know the teachers are limited in what they can do.”
She said there needs to be some conclusion reached where SROs can return to the schools without fear of getting in trouble for doing their jobs. “They need to find common ground where there are specific restraining techniques that the officers can use, or new training, or something so that they can be put back in schools,” Williams said.
Police leaders held a press conference Wednesday to again urge Gov. Tim Walz to call a special session to address the issue.
“The new law has created two different standards: one for school district contracted peace officers and one for those who are not,” said Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association general counsel Imran Ali. “SROs will now be forced to react to situations in ways that are contrary to their training and department policy, leading to unsafe situations for students, staff, and the SROs themselves. SROs also face increased risk of civil and criminal liability because of the uncertainty in the law.”