PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5)-- One of the largest school districts in Arizona is removing resource officers from campus. On Tuesday, Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) Superintendent Dr. Gestson says he will not renew the contract with the City of Phoenix.
“As the district responsibly yet courageously addresses two pandemics, racism and COVID-19, Dr. Gestson said that this is the right time for PXU to revisit and even rethink school safety,” PXU said in a statement.
The move would mean that the district will have an additional $1.2 million to use elsewhere. “The savings will be reinvested back into our people for the 2020-2021 school year… The majority of the funds will be used to train and further develop our school safety teams in preparation for the launch of the 2021-2022 school year. None of the funds will be allocated to positions this year in order to ensure that those funds are available in subsequent years,” Gestson said.
Gestson also said that PXU anticipates more remote learning and less need for resource officers in the 2020-2021 school year. But that this decision was not purely budgetary. “We must play a role in a racial pandemic that exists in this nation. We must be responsible and courageous in the role that we play. We are clearly an anti-racist institution, and we are an institution that is willing to say publicly that Black Lives Matter.”
PXU said they have come up with a 12-point plan that includes more social workers to help students and parents cope.
Off-duty officers will be utilized on an as-needed basis, PXU said, as opposed to having designated on-duty officers on campuses every day.
The announcement comes after several grassroots groups in Arizona have called for the removal of resource officers on campus for fears that children will be racially profiled.
The Phoenix Police Department has not yet responded to Arizona's Family's requests for comment on Tuesday.