Jan. 21, 2021: Task force prepares to make school resource officer recommendation
The Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District School Resource Officer Task Force is wrapping up its work and plans to make a recommendation by the end of January on the future of the district's school resource officer (SRO) program.
Task force members plan to hold their final meeting on Jan. 27 with the expectation that the group will provide Superintendent Peter Smith with its recommendation shortly after.
“We’ve reviewed district, local and national data and information and made significant progress towards coming to a consensus on the needs of the Jamesville-DeWitt School District community,” said Nate Franz, J-D’s assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and equity, who is co-chairing the task force with J-D High School Assistant Principal Candace Johnson. “I look forward to the group finalizing its recommendation and sharing it with Dr. Smith.”
Board of education and community members debated during the summer whether the district should continue the SRO program, which was launched in 2018. The position was intended to provide additional security while building positive relationships with students and staff. The officer, who is currently a full-time Town of DeWitt police officer, is based at the high school but supports the district’s other four schools as needed.
Before entering into a new annual contract with the town for the 2020-21 school year, the district created a 35-member task force made up of teachers, students, administrators, parents, staff and community members to evaluate the program and make a recommendation to the superintendent on the program’s future.
The task force has so far agreed upon three things:
The district needs to establish and maintain an inclusive school climate and culture for all students, especially students of color.
The best possible supports need to be in place for students who are struggling or in crisis.
Student and staff safety, particularly in a school shooting event, need to be ensured.
The group has had seven meetings, including one that featured a discussion with Jackie Schildkraut, a SUNY Oswego professor who is an expert on school shootings and who served as a member of the Onondaga County School Safety Task Force.
At this point, task force members are focusing on the importance of having someone in the district charged with responsibilities focused on safety, staff training in such areas as emergency preparedness, crisis prevention and intervention and cultural responsiveness and the inclusion of restorative practices in the district’s code of conduct.
The board has extended through March 26 the district's short-term memorandum of understanding with the town to allow the task force to complete its work and the district time to implement the group’s recommendations.