West Linn-Wilsonville board reviews school officer agreement
Per the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board's previous recommendation, the district drafted a new memorandum of understanding for the district's school resource officer program.
District Superintendent Kathy Ludwig brought a presentation about the new MOU to the board at the Feb. 22 meeting.
The board voted in October to retain the SRO program but asked that changes be made, including a clarification of the role and responsibilities of an SRO.
The MOU will contain a new intergovernmental agreement between the police departments and school district, which is currently in the process of being finalized, a new SRO job description to be reviewed by both parties' attorneys, and a draft of the 2021-22 compensation to be finalized by the WL-WV business office and each city.
Ludwig said the district used the National Association of School Resource Officer standards and the district's mission statement and values as a guide for the new MOU.
As laid out in the new draft of the MOU, the SRO roles and responsibilities include building trust between law enforcement and the student body, promoting safety in schools, using restorative practices, and providing schools with law enforcement-related topics through class lessons, assemblies and meetings.
Section two of the MOU includes a work schedule and clarification on which instances of school discipline an SRO is to be involved in.
"School discipline was an area that we felt needed quite a bit of clarification," Ludwig said.
Ludwig said lines became blurred and things that could be easily handled by administrators were instead being handled by SROs.
Under the new MOU an SRO would not be involved in the discipline of nondelinquent acts. They might become involved in low-level ,school-based offenses and will be involved in the discipline of serious offenses.
Section two also cites several training sessions that SROs must attend.
Board member Ginger Fitch said that on the topic of training, she'd like the district SROs to know how to engage with non-neurotypical students who are sometimes perceived as more of a threat than they are.
Section three outlines the scope of work for an SRO and section four states what will go into the SRO program review process. While the law enforcement agency will be responsible for the evaluation, the district has asked that it be involved in the process. The district wants to provide input from at least two district administrators and two staff members who have had direct contract with the SRO being evaluated.
Board member Dylan Hydes said the job description in the MOU seemed like "more of a statement of principles than an actual job description."
He said he still didn't have a clear sense of what a typical day on the job looks like.
"I still have concerns that we signed up for another year of SROs without an idea of how they're going to spend their time, and we still have not answered the question of 'are these duties best performed by an SRO?' " he said.
Hydes said he hoped in the future the board could answer that question.
Ludwig said she would have examples of a typical day written into the document.
Fitch had similar concerns as Hydes and said her main concern was that she did not see the same commitment to restorative practices and racial justice at the police department and county levels as she did at WL-WV.
"We're talking about potentially really difficult systems to move. I'm not seeing the system moves that I would hope would support the work we're doing in our schools, she said.
Ludwig said she believed those concerns would be addressed in time.
"I think this accountability, which is what I hear you talking about Director Fitch, is going to come from several angles: legislatively, communitywide, school districtwide and then even within the police departments as they respond to community asks," she said.
The MOU is in the process of being reviewed by attorneys.
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.