March 14, 2024

How Will New Legislation on Dangerous Holds in Schools Impact Students & Families?

By Madie Spartz

The debate around prone restraint and school resource officers (SROs) has dominated education conversations at the Capitol this year. A bill rolling back limits on dangerous holds and adding a new process to create guidelines for SROs, introduced by Rep. Cedric Frazier (D-New Hope) and Sen. Bonnie Westlin (D-Plymouth), passed out of the House and Senate this week. The bill was one of the first introduced this session after controversy emerged this fall and has now been signed by Governor Walz.

But what’s really in the bill, and what will change? Most importantly, how will this impact students and families?

What passed in 2023?

The prone restraint policy that passed in 2023 modified Minnesota’s “reasonable force” laws and prohibited any “employee or agent of a school district,” including school resource officers, from certain types of dangerous holds except in cases in which it’s necessary to prevent bodily harm or death. In other words: teachers, police officers, and any other adults in the school building can only use prone restraint or similar dangerous holds to prevent students from hurting themselves or others. In any situation where bodily harm or death is not at risk, all adults in the school building are required to use other tactics to de-escalate student behavior. 

A few months after the law’s passage, just as school was going back into session, law enforcement voiced their opposition to the changes. That led to a handful of police departments removing their SROs from schools and calls for a special session to address their concerns. SROs claimed that by only using prone restraint when a student poses a threat to themselves or others goes against their training as police officers. 

What changes with the new bill? 

After significant debate over the course of more than a month, the final bill sets new parameters for dangerous holds. 

  1. School resource officers will no longer be subject to any restrictions on dangerous and deadly holds like prone restraint in schools, beyond already existing laws around use of force. All other employees or agents of a district, including security staff, are still prohibited from using prone restraint outside of extreme situations. In other words, SROs will be exempted from the new standard attempting to ensure these holds are reserved for the most extreme situations.
  2. The bill requires the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, the body that regulates the licensing of police officers, to create statewide training for SROs. Up until this point, there was no statewide standard or requirement for SRO training. The law requires the training to include topics like juvenile brain development, working with students with disabilities, and the impact of childhood trauma on behavior. The requirement for officers to complete this training begins on September 1st, 2025, though some have until 2027.
  3. The POST Board must create a statewide model policy on what school resource officers should do. All police departments that employ a school resource officer would be required to adopt this policy, or one that is substantially similar. This bill requires the SRO model policy to include things like SRO contracts, consideration for proper use of force on school grounds, and building positive relationships with students and staff in schools. The model policy will be developed over the next year with input from community groups required, but the policy ultimately established by appointed POST Board members. The POST board is comprised of 17 members including sheriffs, chiefs of police, peace officers, the BCA superintendent, and other members of the public.

One area the bill does not fully address is the role of “security personnel” employed directly by school districts. The bill authors’ intention is that school security personnel are treated as agents of a school district, and therefore subject to limits on the use of prone restraint. An amendment was even introduced in the Senate Finance Committee to spell this out more explicitly, but it ultimately failed. There is still uncertainty on whether security personnel would need to take training similar to what will be offered to SROs.

Next Steps

While the debate about statutory limits on the use of dangerous holds by SROs is over, there will be significant work in the coming months within the POST board. The new training and model policy will be important tools for ensuring student safety, and it is important that these be strong and student-centered. We will continue to engage in the work as a member of the Solutions Not Suspensions coalition and will keep you updated on opportunities for input and action.

SRO Bill Summary
Pre-2024 Law2024 Changes
What are SROs?An SRO is considered an “agent or employee of a school district.”Clarifies that SROs are not agents of a school and not subject to school-based limitations on use of force.
How are SROs Trained?SROs are trained as police officers.The POST board will create SRO-specific training.
Limits on Prone Restraint and Other Dangerous HoldsSROs and other school staff cannot put students into dangerous holds unless the kids are a threat to themselves or others. For nonviolent conflicts, SROs may intervene using less dangerous methods.SROs are exempt from statutory limits on dangerous holds in schools. The POST Board could include additional guidelines in the model policy, which will be developed by the end of 2024.
Teachers, principals, and other school staff cannot use force against kids unless they pose an “imminent” threat to themselves or others.New law strikes the word “imminent,” creating a lower bar for when school staff may use force.
Broader Guidelines for SROsSROs are regulated by standards that apply more broadly to peace officers and/or school staff.The POST Board must develop a model policy with consulting from stakeholders, covering specific roles and guidelines for school-based police.
What Didn’t Change
Data CollectionAs of last year, new law requires schools to collect data on how force is used against kids.No Change. Data collection is still required.
Ban on ChokeholdsChokeholds are a specific type of hold already banned for police statewide, in and out of school. Prone restraint and other holds are also deadly, but are only banned in certain settings.No Change. 
The Role of SROs in Enforcing School RulesSROs cannot be used to implement school-based discipline. This is the role of school staff.No Change. The bill restates current law.


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