Richmond School Board to debate school resource officer policy

Richmond School Board to debate school resource officer policy
Richmond Public Schools unveiled a new logo in 2020. (Source: Richmond Public Schools)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond's School board will move forward with plans to reexamine the division's relationship with school resource officers (SROs).

While a vote isn’t expected at Monday night’s virtual meeting, you will get your chance to sound off on the school resource officer issue at two public hearings set for August.

As protests in Richmond turn to policy discussion, the city's school board is now laying out the framework for a 90-day review of its relationship with school resources officers.

“This conversation is probably overdue for this school district, long overdue and I think it’s a pretty important discussion about how we move forward as a school division and how we handle student disciplinary matters,” said Scott Barlow, Richmond School Board.

On the agenda, establishing two public hearings: August 10 and August 24. The chief school officer will also present data showing arrests by type: mainly simple assault, over the last two school years. That data is also broken down by school with most arrests happening at MLK and Huguenot.

“The data is really disconcerting,” said Barlow. “We know that we had 121 of our students arrested last year. Three out of the four schools that students were most arrested at were at our middle schools.”

The division will also create two focus groups, with students who have had SRO encounters. Those will be done on the middle school and high school level. In June, Richmond School Superintendent Jason Kamras announced a 90-day review of the division’s relationship with police.

Education advocates say SROs should be replaced with counselors and psychologists.

Meanwhile, state Republicans disagree with the move, saying there’s a reason Virginia’s schools are ranked second for safety in the country.

"When it comes to direct school safety issues, there are things that a school resource officer is trained to do and can do that cannot be done by anyone else," State Delegate Rob Bell, (R) 58th District. "We think having an officer in place makes schools safer."

NBC12 reached out to Richmond Police about the review, the department has no comment.

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