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Gov. Walz may call special session over SROs controversy as first day of school looms

Gov. Walz may call special session over SROs controversy
Gov. Walz may call special session over SROs controversy 02:16

MINNEAPOLIS — When students go back to class Tuesday, some schools will be without their school resource officers (SROs). Some police departments are pulling officers over a new law that restricts what holds an officer can use on violent students.

Gov. Tim Walz is now indicating he may call the legislature back into a special session over the issue. 

At issue is the wording in a new state law that says officers can not use face-down holds, including kneeling on a student's neck. Republicans want a special session called to change that language.

READ MORE: What is the exact language of the new law concerning school resource officer conduct?

"What we've asked — and I think we've had it start to happen this week — is that we have law enforcement working with folks in the Senate. I think [Minority] Leader Demuth, a good, smart legislator, I think they're working out language on this. If that's the case to get to the path that we need to fix, then that's what we'll do," Walz said.

Demuth said she was "encouraged" to hear Walz say there's still a chance for a special session.

"I think it's important to realize that we are hearing from school districts across the state," Demuth said.

Among those pulling officers are Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Moorhead and Wayzata. On the other hand, Rogers and Delano officers will be in schools.

The DFL chair of the Senate Education Committee says he believes because of an interpretation released by Attorney General Keith Ellison, the issue can wait until February, but he will support Walz's decision.

"If Gov. Walz and leadership in the House and Senate feel that, because of those concerns, a special session needs to happen, then we will do it," Sen. Steve Cwodzinski said.

DFL legislators have indicated they are open to making changes to the SRO law and others, including the legalization of marijuana, only when the legislature goes back into session early next year.

The two most powerful leaders in the Minnesota Legislature issued statements Monday evening, saying they are discussing changes to the wording in this controversial new law. With the governor saying he might support a special session to change the law's language, the statements with nearly identical language from DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and DFL Sen. Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic indicate there is movement on this issue.

Rep. Hortman:

We all want a safe and healthy learning environment for Minnesota students and school staff. This is an important policy discussion about safety and the appropriate use of force in our schools. House and Senate leaders are continuing to have conversations with members, stakeholders, and the Governor about this issue and how to best address it. 

Sen. Dziedzic:

Our top priority is for our students to successfully learn and that requires a safe and healthy environment for students and staff in the schools. We are continuing to have discussions with our members, stakeholders, and the Governor's office about the specific 2023 policy changes around use of force in our schools and school safety generally.

Not every school has an SRO. Some school districts, including Minneapolis, pulled their officers after George Floyd's murder

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