BOULDER, Colo. — Two committees with the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) recommended to the school board and superintendent to remove school resource officers or SROs from all schools on Tuesday.
The District Accountability Committee (DAC) and Equity Council gave presentations, after a months-long process, to recommend dissolving the partnership with SROs, possibly replacing them with other behavioral and mental health resources.
The DAC’s recommendation comes after the group identified questions, issues and inequities with the district’s current SRO program including:
- No clear goals or oversite of the SRO program – DAC said it was unable to find specific information from the district about what the program hoped to achieve at its schools.
- No data or measurement beyond arrest information.
- Nothing about racial or ethnic disparities or students’ mental health.
- What type of outreach or teaching SROs are doing isn’t being tracked.
- Only general information about job descriptions and training were given when DAC asked for specific SRO job duties.
- To the committee’s knowledge, SROs get no specific training in working with schools’ diverse communities.
- Students of color do fear safety when SROs are in schools.
- SROs are responsible for covering multiple schools and not assigned to a single school.
- Limited evidence if SROs are effective in schools.
The DAC emphasized SROs are reactive when a proactive approach to behavior and other issues needs to be taken.
The committee, however, acknowledged that safety plans are still needed and police are a part of that – but the DAC said it was unclear on how that relationship with police departments would work.
The Equity Council presented the same recommendation of ending SRO partnerships and removing officers from schools.
In addition, the ECC gave five more recommendations:
- In the future, non-emergency issues and mental health concerns should be handled within BVSD; external concerns and concerns of possible bodily harm or death would be excluded.
- Student voices, especially Black, Hispanic, Native and LGBTQ students, should be elevated in the design and ongoing oversight.
- All BVSD staff should receive bias and anti-racism training; BVSD should expand mental health and trauma-informed staff in schools; data should be reviewed regularly.
- There needs to be future relationships with police departments, a diverse taskforce should be put together to design how those new relationships with BVSD and police departments would work.
- BVSD should create a taskforce/committee to address larger systemic school safety and equity issues through ongoing engagement within this committee.
Board of Education Vice President Kathy Gebhardt pressed the DAC about other duties SROs have in schools, pointing to the fact that officers in schools have other focuses, including soft-skill work in substance abuse.
Rob Price, assistant superintendent of operations, clarified SROs are a classified position that reports any issue to the principal, calling them the "eyes and ears in the field."
The board said it had hoped to take action this month, but wants to get voices from students first. Instead, the board plans to draft a resolution to dissolve SROs by a yet-to-be-determined date next year so the superintendent can have that documentation.
SROs are primarily in middle and high schools.
Teachers, though few in numbers, were members of both committees.
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