A Johnson High School teacher is calling on St. Paul school officials to bring school resource officers (SROs) back to campus in the wake of another “violent incident,” according to an email obtained by Alpha News.
“Trespassing adults are entering our buildings in creative ways for malicious reasons,” the teacher said in the email, clarifying that she is “not scared of [her] own students.”
However, she thinks teachers and staff are “too often put in inappropriate and dangerous situations to keep the building safe for students.”
The teacher went on to say that “hostile” adults entering the school building is “happening more often.”
She said she is thankful for the security staff, but they “have limits compared to a full police officer.”
“When can we get SROs back? I know we can do this appropriately, keeping concerns around policing and equity in the front of our minds,” she said. “Please do something.”
While teachers have some resources to deal with student “conflict and behavior,” hostile adults “entering our building is an entirely different thing happening more often,” she said in the email, which was sent to the superintendent and Johnson High School staff.
“I live on the East Side; there is a shift in rage and weapons in our area. Supporting our students through that is one thing; we do that every day and do it well. But adults entering our building with bad intentions is entirely different and becoming more common,” she continued.
St. Paul Public Schools Director of Communications Erica Wacker provided Alpha News with a copy of an email sent out to Johnson High School families following an April 13 incident referenced by the teacher.
“There was an altercation inside our building. Community members came to the school and didn’t follow our visitor protocols, and we placed the school in a lockdown as a precaution,” the email from Johnson High School Principal Jamil Payton said. The email explained that there are “consequences for students who fight in school.”
“The situation was upsetting to some students,” the email added.
School officials did not reply to follow-up questions regarding the allegations of more adults entering school buildings or provide details regarding the incident earlier this month.
St. Paul police told the media that the school was placed on lockdown because of a fight between students. According to the reports, family members came to the school and were involved in the conflict.
Teachers spoke out on the rise in violence in St. Paul Public Schools during a special February board meeting, criticizing the district’s “negligent” response. The meeting was called after 15-year-old Devin Scott was stabbed to death at Harding High School.
In response, Superintendent Joe Gothard temporarily returned SROs to some district buildings. Police were removed from the schools following the death of George Floyd.
Mark Ross, a former SRO and president of the St. Paul Police Federation, told Alpha News in a new podcast series that a growing number of students are bringing weapons to school.
“We’re at a point now where there’s no control in the high schools,” he said.