HCPSS Initiates School Resource Officer Program Review
September 25th, 2020
Update: September 25, 2020, to correct staff focus group date
Superintendent Michael J. Martirano presented “School Resource Officers in Schools,” a report to the Howard County Board of Education during the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, September 24. In presenting the report, Martirano initiated the first step in a highly-anticipated, extended conversation about the roles, purpose and outcomes of School Resource Officers (SROs) in Howard County schools, which will involve all school system stakeholders.
Each SRO is a Howard County Police Department officer assigned to a school. Currently, HCPSS has an SRO assigned to each of the 12 high schools, as well as SROs who split time among 12 middle schools. SROs are intended to serve multiple defined roles in the school that include partnering with school administrators in maintaining school safety, establishing positive relations between youth and law enforcement, and helping to deter students from behaviors that may lead to criminal activity.
Recent incidents and unrest have driven a national process of self-reflection about the corrosive impact of racism, which has prompted a renewed discussion in school systems nationally and locally about the role of police in schools. Because the topic of police presence in schools is highly controversial and sensitive, HCPSS has developed a carefully planned process to ensure a balanced discussion that is grounded in research and fact, is objective and transparent, and considers all points of view. The school system’s ultimate goal is a collaboratively-developed plan for assuring school safety while maintaining a restorative and inclusive learning environment, and that is compliant with legal requirements.
The HCPSS report is intended to serve as a data-based framework for an extended process of discussion and feedback that will take place over the next several months and will involve students, families, staff and community members. The report provides extensive information, including research findings, national and HCPSS-specific data, and the history of and experiences related to SROs at HCPSS. It outlines the next steps in the process, including a schedule of opportunities for stakeholder input and Board deliberation later in the year.
- Virtual Focus Groups:
- Monday, October 5, 6:30-8 p.m., for parents/guardians and students attending schools where SROs are assigned. Eligible families will receive a sign-up form via email.
- Tuesday, October 13, 6:30-8 p.m., for staff at schools where SROs are assigned. Staff at applicable schools will be provided with sign-up information.
- Thursday, October 15, 6:30-8 p.m., for community members. Sign-up information will be announced soon.
- Virtual Town Hall: On Thursday, November 12, 6:30–8 p.m., members of the public will have an opportunity to share views about SROs during a moderated virtual town hall. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Available space is limited for each focus group, and participants will be randomly chosen from among the applications received and divided equally among those who support, are opposed to or have no position on SROs. Selected participants will be provided with zoom link codes and additional information. Language interpretation services will be available.
Additional opportunities for stakeholder feedback will be announced in the coming weeks.
The full report and presentation may be viewed online.