The Gresham-Barlow School District, in partnership with Buffalo Cloud Consulting, held a community listening session and informational session discussing the process of reevaluating the district's Student Resource Officer (SRO) program.
After allegations of racial discrimination and profiling from multiple Gresham High School students against the Gresham High SRO officer, the district removed the officer from the high school and elected to go through a review of the program.
The beginning of the online session outlined how the district and the third-party consulting group will go about assessing the program. Afterward, community members, parents and students asked questions and gave comments on the process and its potential outcomes.
Many commenters wondered whether the review would result in the ending of the SRO program, to which Gresham-Barlow Superintendent James Hiu gave an emphatic no.
"I am fully supportive of our SRO program, and I want to improve the program," Hiu said. "Hopefully, this process will inform me to be able to make some recommendations on the intergovernmental agreement moving forward."
While many commenters would rather remove the program altogether, an equal share of people shared their concerns about the level of safety and security in the high schools without a stationed officer at the schools. A few commented that their student felt unsafe in their school without an SRO in the building. In response, Hiu said besides an officer stationed at the former West Gresham Elementary School building, there also were two other officers allocated to support the entire school district if needed.
Students and family members also wereconcerned that their opinions and feelings toward SROs would be excluded or overlooked at future listening sessions and interviews. To calm those concerns, Buffalo Cloud Consulting CEO Christine Moses assured the community that her organization would listen to everyone who wants to share their perspective.
"I deeply want to invite people to email me and give us your experience with SROs within this school district and what you would like to see in the future," Moses said.
Buffalo Cloud Consulting said it will use relevant data from the SRO program, including discipline data, school climate surveys and SRO job descriptions. Students, who have both positive and negative experiences with SROs, will be interviewed throughout the process. Other listening sessions are planned for parents, staff and community members.
One such event is a community listening session that runs from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the former West Gresham Elementary Building, 330 Powell Blvd., Gresham.
Space is limited, so those interested in attending need to register at the district's website. Child care is available, but the child must be potty trained, and parents must register for the event to indicate they are in need of child care. Spanish and Russian interpreters also will be available.
In addition to the community session, listening sessions for high school students, families and staff will take place. Those interested in these events should contact their high school principal for more information.
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