West Linn-Wilsonville School District seeks input on SRO program
As the country dealt with a racial reckoning and conversation around police brutality reached a fever pitch, some of that attention turned to the presence of police officers in schools.
Over the last few months, districts throughout the country — including Portland Public Schools — decided to end their student resource officer (SRO) programs.
The West Linn-Wilsonville School District announced Monday, Sept. 28, that it would begin a review of its own SRO program.
WL-WV Superintendent Kathy Ludwig emailed district families Monday stating that the school board decided to review the program with an "equity lens" aiming to "(improve) our support to our students."
Part of the review includes input from the community and a district survey on the subject opened Monday. The survey will close Monday, Oct. 5, but community members can write comments to the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board through Oct. 26 when the board is scheduled to discuss and possibly take action on the matter.
"We want to assure our school community that we are taking great care to hear all viewpoints as we review this program. Often the voices of our minority or marginalized students and families in our communities can be missed if we are not careful," Ludwig's email stated. "Therefore, we are making intentional efforts to reach out and hear the experiences of our students, parents and staff of color in our community."
Ludwig wrote that the district values its partnerships with both the West Linn and Wilsonville police departments, especially its current SROs.
"Our partnership is critical during emergencies or crises interventions (e.g. lockdown, lock out, evacuation)," the email states. "And our partnership is critical to disrupting systems of racism in our community and in our schools."
Not long ago, the district had considered adding a second SRO to West Linn schools, but when the board discussed the program over the summer, school board member Ginger Fitch expressed concern over officers in schools and what has been referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline.
According to Ludwig's email, the SRO program contributes to the safe and welcoming school culture and provides law enforcement-related education, counseling and prevention.
SROs also investigate and respond to criminal behavior, engage in restorative practices, promote student health and wellness, and provide assistance during school safety events or crises.
The SRO program review will include data on its history, costs, training, job description and referrals from each police department, as well as feedback from students, staff, parents and community. There will also be research of other SRO programs and school security models, a recommendation from Ludwig and more analysis and discussion before action is taken at the Oct. 26 school board meeting.
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