Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, along with others from his staff, is making a foray into education as one of the founders of a new east metro charter school.
The School of Leadership for Public Service will serve students in grades six through 10 starting in the 2022-23 school year. According to the school's website, it would grow over time and eventually serve students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Other Sheriff's Office employees affiliated with the new school are public information officer Roy Magnuson, a former teacher who is listed as a founder of the school, and Ramsey County Undersheriff Bill Finney, who serves on the charter school's board. The board also includes several educators with a range of teaching experience.
Students will be able to study a variety of public service careers including how to become police officers, dispatchers, construction workers, secretaries and mechanics, Magnuson said.
"In too many of our schools, families have not felt the learning environment for their child was stable, supportive, they have not felt their school setting is as safe as it could or should be. So they've sought other options," he said. "We believe we will create a community of communities."
Fletcher did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
In recent months, he has clashed with the Ramsey County Board over budget cuts to the Sheriff's Office, ultimately losing an appeal in court. In addition, several Ramsey County and St. Paul elected officials have criticized his "Live on Patrol" videos that generate millions of views on social media.
The newly formed charter school does not yet have a building to call home. Magnuson said the school is in negotiations for a facility, but declined to say where the physical building would be. The school will be free for students, supported by public funds, and the group plans on fundraising.
According to a Minnesota Department of Education list of new charter schools, the school has a projected enrollment of 150 students at a Roseville location. Its authorizer is the Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools.
Donna Swanson, a teacher and education reform advocate, approached Fletcher with the idea of starting the charter school, according to a news release.
"This school ensures that at an early age young people in our neighborhoods develop connections with public servants," Fletcher said in the release.
A spokesman for Ramsey County declined to comment.