Welcome to Wednesday and your midweek Digest.
1. How early should kids face the prospect of suspensions? During story time recently at Wellstone Elementary School in St. Paul, teacher Matt Proulx paused to remind his kindergartners about his expectations for them. “We’re going to stop right here for just one moment,” he told the children. “And check our bodies for a second. I want you to turn and talk to your partner … .” Proulx has spent most of the school year teaching his students language and math concepts. But kindergarten isn’t just about phonics and numbers. It’s also about figuring out how to behave in school, how to make friends and how to learn in a classroom setting. A policy proposal that failed to reach the governor’s desk this year would have affected the available tools that teachers and administrators can use to drive that lesson home. It would have banned suspensions and expulsions from preschool through second grade. (MPR News)
2. More ICE detentions possible in central Minnesota. Sherburne County is proposing to expand its jail to provide space for up to 500 immigration detainees, an increase from the 300 beds it currently provides for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The county sent the preliminary proposal in response to ICE’s request for additional detention space within 100 miles of its St. Paul field office at Fort Snelling, county officials confirmed. ICE’s deadline for proposals was May 20. It’s not clear when the federal agency will decide whether to pursue them. (MPR News)
3. Phillips pursues aid for cities that miss out on LGA. U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips says the most common topic that came up on recent visits with municipal officials in his suburban congressional district was the lack of state funding to improve aging infrastructure. So in an effort to bridge the gap left by cuts in state aid to local governments, Phillips, a Democrat, is sponsoring a bill seeking federal funding for a suburban water treatment center. Only eight of his district’s 36 cities this year received a cut of the $560 million Local Government Aid (LGA) funding approved by the Legislature. Most of the cities with goose eggs are in western Hennepin County. “In my district, most of the cities aren’t near core cities and they aren’t rural. It’s a distinct challenge,” said Phillips. “Moving bills through Congress is no easy task, but I’ve been in sales my entire life. Selling legislation is very similar to building relationships.” (Star Tribune)
4. Leaders on police misconduct board step down. Two top community leaders of a commission that reviews misconduct complaints against St. Paul police officers resigned Tuesday, saying they have “repeatedly seen evidence” the mayor and his staff are not serious about supporting their work. “By failing to adequately support the PCIARC’s (Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission’s) mandate, the mayor and his appointees are denying St. Paul community members the opportunity to have meaningful participatory oversight of their police department,” chair Constance Tuck and vice chair Rachel Sullivan-Nightengale wrote in their resignation letter. The commission votes on whether St. Paul officers should be disciplined for policy violations and forwards recommendations to the police chief. A decision on discipline then falls to the chief.Mayor Melvin Carter thanked Tuck and Sullivan-Nightengale “for their service to our city. It will undoubtedly help inform our work moving forward,” he said in a brief statement Tuesday. Tuck and Sullivan-Nightengale wrote the mayor “has never sought the PCIARC’s input on community policing concerns observed” in their work on the commission. (Pioneer Press)
5. St. Cloud group headed to court over special ed funding. A group of St. Cloud school district stakeholders is suing the state for underfunding education — specifically special education, which then affects the district’s ability to serve other students. The state, in turn, is arguing the court cannot implement the requested funding without infringing on the role of the state Legislature, which is charged with determining educational policy. A judge will hear arguments from both sides Friday in Stearns County District Court. The lawsuit contends the state does not give the district enough money to cover special education services, which causes the district to dip into its general funds. (St. Cloud Times)