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At Central High rally, youths urge OPS to cancel contract with Omaha police

At Central High rally, youths urge OPS to cancel contract with Omaha police

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A rally calling on the Omaha Public Schools to cancel its contract with the Omaha Police Department drew more than 200 people Saturday afternoon.

The front lawn and steps of Central High School were filled with masked faces as speakers at the youth-organized rally asked OPS to remove school resource officers from the district’s schools, among other things.

“The louder we are, the harder we are to ignore,” said Lauren Anderson, a recent Central graduate and rally organizer.

This is not the first time there has been talk of the role of police in the district.

OPS board member Amanda Ryan said in June that she wanted police out of the schools. But board member Nancy Kratky said the presence of school resource officers was important to her.

The Bellevue Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office also provide officers for OPS middle and high schools.

Representatives of the student group What YOUth Can Do said they had met with OPS Superintendent Cheryl Logan. The district should, according to the group:

  • Cancel its contract with Omaha police.
  • Focus on prevention instead of reaction when it comes to school safety.
  • Invest in mental health resources for students.
  • Emphasize black history in the curriculum.
  • Diversify honors and Advanced Placement courses.

The rally organizers acknowledged that eliminating school resource officers is a controversial idea and that parents are concerned about student safety.

“We still want unarmed security guards there,” Anderson said, as the guards would “foster positive relationships with students.”

The students said they planned to take their concerns to the school board during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

OPS did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A police spokesman said the department was unaware of the rally until this weekend and did not have an immediate comment.

wbauer@owh.com, 402-444-1069

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