By Reg Chapman

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A partnership to help at-risk youth between the city of St. Paul, Ramsey County and St. Paul Schools is being dissolved.

The move comes after concerns from the community about privacy issues.

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The partnership gave the city, county and schools the ability to share data with the hope that it would lead to more kids getting resources and support services.

But, as Reg Chapman shows us, a new partnership is now in the works.

It was an effort to keep young people out of the criminal justice system.

“Ramsey County began this effort more than three years ago with the intention of collaborating to improve outcomes for our young people,” Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough said.

A partnership between the city of St. Paul, Ramsey County and St. Paul Schools was established by a joint powers agreement called the innovation project.

The partners would share data they believed would give them a better idea of which kids needed help or intervention.

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“We can still predict in St. Paul with an alarming degree of accuracy which children and which families based on their race, ethnicity and their zip code are most at risk of falling through the cracks,” said Mayor Melvin Carter.

But the community has big concerns about the use of this data.

“We have identified this program to be really a cradle to prison algorithm – a plan to identify children before they are even walking into our schools using an analysis that is based on biased information identifying children’s behaviors and not recognizing children’s abilities to learn and grow and be successful,” Jaylani Hussein said.

Hussein is part of a coalition of parents and community members who believe the data helps identify black and brown children as violent before they commit a crime.

“The actual data and how it would be gathered and then analyzed was already bias-laced,” Hussein said.

“We have heard loud and clear a set of concerns of this project including the joint powers agreement itself and, specifically, the concern over the use of data this agreement has,” Mayor Carter said.

So Mayor Carter dissolved the joint powers agreement in favor of a community approach to refine the vision that truly works for all.

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Mayor Carter says helping at-risk students is happening now but in an isolated manner. Several meetings are planned where community can help shape the look of a new partnership.

Reg Chapman