The Lake Oswego School District still has a ways to go in determining the future of the School Resource Officer program.
At a Monday, March 8, board meeting, the Lake Oswego School Board charged Superintendent Lora de la Cruz with convening an ad hoc task force to study options for addressing the district needs that are currently being served by the SRO program and come up with recommendations on how the program should be redefined. The discussion followed the Feb. 24 board meeting in which the district presented the results of that assessment to the board.
The task force, to be composed of 15 parents and guardians, students, teachers and staff members, will help shape the future of the SRO program by studying options to best serve students' needs.
"A structure around discipline and supporting our students and all that comes with that is bigger than making a decision about an SRO program," board member Kirsten Aird said. "They're related, but it's not the same."
Aird's comment sparked a conversation among board members about what the objective of the task force would be: making an overall recommendation about the SRO program or assessing how the district's needs will best be served.
"We've been saying all along that what we're having a conversation (about) is the SRO contract, but what it has evolved to is 'what supports can and should we be providing in schools that would help our students to feel and be safe?' and 'is that support coming through an SRO program or is it coming in another way?'" de la Cruz said.
She said it's not so much about having an SRO contract or not having one. It's about designing a program of safety and support for students.
School Board Chair Sara Pocklington added that the needs assessment detailed the support administrators get from having a relationship with law enforcement, and that moving forward that should be taken into account as well.
"I think our needs are so different right now than they've ever been before," board member Neelam Gupta said.
Still, de la Cruz said, a decision must be made about the SRO program specifically.
"That is the decision we have been discussing throughout this entire period and so this task force does need to have a conversation about designing not only what would be the most efficacious program of support for our students, but also what is the relationship with law enforcement in our schools," de la Cruz said.
The district expects the task force to present the board with recommendations by May.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.