Blaska survives a chaotic meeting in a chaotic school district
I spoke before the Madison School Board’s ad hoc committee on police in the schools late Monday afternoon. Or tried to.
Room 103 of the Doyle administration bldg was packed with the usual suspects, a term I used in my remarks. There were about 50 of the Derail the Jail crowd, assorted socialists and others. They sprayed the F-bomb liberally and insulted the committee members at will. They brandished the usual posters, including “Expel Cops, Not Kids.” They’ve been bird-dogging this committee for the past year and a half, virtually uncontradicted. Their message is pure identity blame gaming: the white power structure is keeping them down.
The four Madison high school educational resource (police) officers:
When at last Blaska’s turn came (and it came toward the last) he asked whether police in the four Madison high schools are really the problem.
- When a veteran and honored teacher like Karen Vieth quits in disgust and describes a school out of control.
- When she describes something called the positive behavior support coach hospitalized after breaking up a fight. At her middle school! Scores of teachers and parents have verified her account.
- When 18 police responded to La Follette H.S. to a brawl in February, where two students and one teacher were injured.
- When the cop assigned to La Follette disarmed a student bringing a loaded handgun into school. Just a few days after Parkland, Florida.
- When later that month, 150 La Follette parents convened to demand order be restored.
None of them asked for cops out of school.
Who, exactly, is demanding cops out of schools? I noted that the crowd seated in Room 103 were pretty much the same mob who shouted down the Dane County Board of Supervisors when that ultra-liberal body discussed building a smaller and more humane county jail, one that would treat mental illness and address substance abuse.
Apologizing to the disrupters
It was at this point that the hullaballoo reached a deafening crescendo. One board member, T.J. Mertz, bugged out entirely. Committee chairman Dean Loumos (whom I was seated behind) shouted into my ear (to be heard above the cacophony) if I would be willing to stop right there. Given the pandemonium, I did so. Still had 17 seconds left of the allotted three minutes, but Blaska is public spirited.
Then Dean Loumos did the unforgivable. He apologized to the disrupters! Dean Loumos said he did not know Blaska would use “coded language.”
What coded language? The protestors were black, white, hispanic, and east Asian. Very few are parents. All but a handful are very young, very loud, and very obnoxious. I intend for Dean Loumos to explain or apologize. (We have video at Part #2.)
What else is new? Madison school board leadership race-shamed Karen Vieth for complaining about the dysfunction in her school. So why shouldn’t school board member Loumos do the same when a citizen and parent speaks in favor of keeping the police?!
In any event, there seem to be the votes on the 12-member committee to expel the police from Madison’s four high schools. Not for next fall’s school year, but phased out.
WI Legislature to the rescue
Except, except, except. The school district’s legal counsel informed the committee that the State of Wisconsin on March 26 enacted Wisconsin Act 143, which mandates that school personnel are required to immediately report their belief that a “serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a student, school employee, or the public.”
What’s more, the statute prohibits the school district from interfering by imposing its own policy over this mandate. The school district cannot require the teacher or staff to first touch base with an administrator “or any other person before calling … 911.”
That clearly troubled school board member Loumos. He fretted that, with 4,200 district employees:
“One of them could be having a bad day and say, ‘I’m going to cause some grief.’”
(Good to know the school board has your back, Madison public school teachers.)
After the attorney’s presentation on the statute, one of the committee members, Tyrone Bell, made a motion with his hands that indicated evicting police is a dead letter. Bell conjectured that East High alone would generate 10 such calls every day but that, with a cop in the school, the problem could be reported to that officer, which the law allows. And the officer could use his/her discretion. (I have high hopes for Mr. Bell.)
Another member (didn’t catch who) actually wondered if the 911 call had to be made to Madison police! (No, silly, call the Poynette cop shop!)
This is a school district that has its hand out for state money to improve school security while simultaneously giving the boot to the police (aka educational resource officers, or EROs).
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Why should the school board’s ERO committee meeting be any less disruptive than the average Madison middle and high school?
Previous coverage of the Cops in Schools drama.