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Chief of Baltimore school police resigns

Baltimore School Police Chief Marshall "Toby" Goodwin resigned as head of the department he led for nine years, city school officials announced Wednesday.

In a joint statement issued with Goodwin, school officials said they accepted his resignation, which comes more than three months after he was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of a March incident in which a school police officer was captured on video slapping and kicking a student while his partner watched.

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The statement said Goodwin was "not involved in the unfortunate events on March 1" at the REACH Partnership School in Clifton Park and that he was resigning to "pursue other interests." His resignation was effective June 10.

"City Schools is deeply grateful to Goodwin for his service to our schools, students, and community, and wishes him well in his future endeavors," the statement said.

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School officials declined to explain why Goodwin was placed on leave. A district spokeswoman said he was paid for his accrued leave, but she did not disclose the amount.

Before he took over the city school police force — the only designated school police force in the state — Goodwin worked in the Baltimore sheriff's office for 25 years and in public safety at Baltimore City Community College. A Baltimore native and graduate of Edmondson High School, Goodwin also served in the Maryland House of Delegates, representing the 40th District from 2003 to 2007.

In his nine years leading the school police, Goodwin was credited with developing relationships within and outside the school district to expand training for officers and mentoring programs for students. He developed the closed-circuit television monitoring system in the district and started a Shop with a Cop program in which officers take students from low-income families Christmas shopping every year.

"Although he had a tough job, and we had some disagreements, I always thought that he had the safety and the best interest of our children at heart," said City Councilman Brandon M. Scott, vice chair of the Public Safety Committee.

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Jimmy Gittings, president of the city's administrators union, said he respected Goodwin and his leadership.

"He was an outstanding chief of police, and he will be missed greatly," Gittings said.

The school police department has been criticized in the past year amid a series of high-profile allegations of officer misconduct. Last year, Officer Lakisha Pulley pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree assault and resigned from the force after a video of her assaulting three girls at a middle school surfaced and went viral. In the March slapping and kicking incident, two officers were charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office. A jury trial is scheduled to begin July 27 for Officers Anthony Spence and Severna Bias.

The district also has been embroiled in a yearlong debate about whether school police should be armed while stationed in buildings, an issue that has divided parents, youth advocates and educators over what, if any, role school police should play in educational settings.

The school police force will operate with less funding and 20 fewer positions next year after a recent budget cut of $1.4 million led to layoffs and vacant positions not being filled.

Melissa Schober, a parent advocate who has been critical of school police, said the recent incidents "revealed systemic failures within the Baltimore City School Police Department, including poor data collection, inconsistent hiring policies and militaristic training that encouraged officers to adopt an us-versus-them mentality."

"As leader of the Baltimore City School Police Department, Chief Goodwin is ultimately responsible for those failures," she said.

Acting School Police Chief Akil Hamm will remain in his position, city school officials said. Scott and Gittings said they hope Hamm will be named permanent school police chief.

Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the school police union, said Goodwin worked hard and was dedicated to the school police force.

"We have seen tremendous growth under his leadership," Boatwright said. "And we wish him much success in the next chapter of his life."

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