March 17, 2021: School resource officer program extended through June
The Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District School Resource Officer Program will continue through the end of the 2020-21 school year.
At its March 15 meeting, the J-D Board of Education voted 5-4 to extend its current short-term memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Town of DeWitt for the services of a full-time police officer to serve as the district’s school resource officer (SRO).
Board of education and community members began debating during the summer whether the district should continue the program, which was launched in 2018. Before entering into a new annual contract with the town for the 2020-21 school year, the district created a 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 made a number of recommendations, which Smith agreed should be implemented, including
Training all staff around emergency preparedness;
Training key staff on crisis prevention and intervention;
Training all counselors and support staff on cultural responsiveness and trauma-informed approaches; and
Revising the district’s Code of Conduct with a focus on progressive discipline and restorative practices.
The task force did not reach a consensus on the future of the SRO position, and so Smith made the recommendation to the board to extend the MOU through June 25 and for the district to revise the MOU by July 1 using input from the task force and district stakeholders.
“The SRO Task Force uncovered additional areas that need attention so all of our students—especially our Black and brown students—feel safe, emotionally and physically,” Smith said. “It is my hope that every student and staff member feels safe in our schools.”
The SRO position was intended to provide additional security while building positive relationships with students and staff. The officer is based at the high school but supports the district’s other four schools as needed.
“The SRO is not the centerpiece of safety at J-D, but it is a piece,” Smith said. “There are a number of other pieces, including counselors, teachers, cameras, training, drills, administrators and other staff members. All of these pieces should work in concert to create a safe and welcoming environment.”