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Protesters in Minneapolis. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Public school districts across the U.S. are cutting ties with local police departments, amid a wave of pressure and protests following the death of George Floyd.

Why it matters: Many districts have introduced school resource officers, known as SROs, over the last couple decades in response to school shootings. But civil rights advocates argue that installing officers in schools puts students of color at risk.

  • Those who support removing police officers have instead called for replacing them with unarmed campus security focused on conflict resolution.

What's happening: As protests erupted in Minneapolis following Floyd's killing, the city's school board voted unanimously to drop the district's contract with the local police department.

  • On June 4, Guadalupe Guerrero, the superintendent of Portland Public Schools, announced the district would discontinue the use of SROs and reevaluate its relationship with the Portland Police Bureau.
  • Seattle Public Schools announced earlier this week plans to suspend the district's partnership with the police department for a year.
  • The Denver School Board on Thursday night voted unanimously to pull SROs out of the city's schools.
  • The majority of Oakland, California's school board backed a proposal to eliminate the district’s internal police force.

What to watch: Public school officials in Chicago, New York City and Phoenix are also facing pressure to sever district ties with police departments, per the Washington Post.

Between the lines: There is a body of research that suggests racial disparities in how schools discipline their students.

  • A 2018 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that black students are more likely to be disciplined than their white peers — whether by facing suspensions or law enforcement referrals.
  • A 2010 study by researchers at Villanova University found that schools with a larger percentage of black students were more likely to have more severe disciplinary policies.

But, but, but: It's unclear whether the increase of in-school policing, which has accelerated in recent decades in the wake of high-profile shootings like Columbine, has actually made schools safer.

  • “We don’t have rigorous, causal evidence proving that SROs make schools safer,” Matthew Mayer, a professor at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education who studies school violence prevention, tells Pew.

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2020 - Health

Millions of COVID-19 vulnerable adults tied to schools

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable to the coronavirus, and at least 63.2% of employees live with someone who is at increased risk, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: We know children can catch and spread the virus. This study emphasizes why minimizing risk if and when schools reopen is crucial.

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents who whipped at migrants

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: Abbott's remark on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.