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Champaign Unit 4 School Board votes to renew police contract

Unit 4 Superintendent Shelia Boozer and Board President Amy Armstrong listen to Elizabeth Sotiropoulos advocate against policing in schools on April 11, 2022.

CHAMPAIGN – If the Champaign Police Department has enough staff, the Champaign Unit 4 School District Board of Education wants to reinstate resource officers – or SROs – at schools.

Six school board members voted to renew the SRO contract at Monday’s meeting.

Board member Elizabeth Sotiropoulos voted no. She said the board resolved to stop relying on SROs and should stick with that resolution.

“We have an opportunity where we are making progress towards our goal, even if it’s not exactly how we thought we would make the progress. I don’t understand why we would want to take a step backwards,” Sotiropoulos said.

In June 2020, the board decided to involve the police only in situations escalating into violence as part of its anti-racism resolution. Historically, while only one-third of Unit 4 students are Black, the majority of those arrested have been Black.

The police department had too many vacancies this year to station officers at Unit 4. The board turned to the private, Chicago-based security firm AGB instead.

Unit 4 Security Director Jeremy Canales says that police officers have continued to stop by schools.

“It’s like a family. You can have someone to step into a family and be a father and try to help out a son, but without the relationship, it sometimes goes unheard,” Canales said.

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.

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Emily Hays

Emily Hays started at WILL in October 2021 after three-plus years in local newsrooms in Virginia and Connecticut. She has won state awards for her housing coverage at Charlottesville Tomorrow and her education reporting at the New Haven Independent. Emily graduated from Yale University where she majored in History and South Asian Studies.

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