School resource officers are about to be phased out in DC public schools.
School resource officers are about to be phased out in public schools in the district.
In an 8-5 vote on Tuesday, the DC Council stuck to a plan to phase out the number of school resource officers in public and charter schools by 60 starting July 1 from this year, to 40 people in 2023, then 20 people by 2024. , ending the program by 2025.
The vote was taken as part of a wider budget discussion. Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed a subtitle to the budget that would keep the SRO program in place as is for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The SRO program is operated by the DC Police.
A second vote on the draft budget is scheduled for May 24.
“It is important to note here: they did not ask for more time. They didn’t ask for more money. They haven’t presented a plan or a vision of alternatives that they would like,” said Ward 6 council member Charles Allen.
“They’re just telling us to scrap the plan because they’re not interested in creating this more holistic, non-policing approach to school safety.”
The move comes from a report released by the DC Police Reform Commission in April 2021 suggesting that police presence in schools be eliminated and replaced with “positive youth development” professionals.
This would include trained educators, counselors and mediators, according to Allen.
A majority of headteachers who testified at a hearing last month were in favor of keeping the program. On Tuesday, supporters of Bowser’s efforts to retain funding for the ORS cited the violent atmosphere they say has gripped the city.
“Our city and its schools are experiencing a frightening increase in crime and violence perpetrated by students, parents and other members of our local communities,” said council chairman Phil Mendelson. “In the midst of this crime wave driven largely by juvenile offenders, our members and other school staff are fearful for their safety.”
Ward 8 council member Trayon White mentioned he met with 75 minors over the weekend and said their two main concerns were school safety and safe transportation to and from school. .
He also told a constituent’s story of how a fight between students caused several parents to come to school to check on their children and then a fight broke out between the parents who had arrived.
“That’s the climate we find ourselves in right now,” White said.
Allen and others, however, criticized the SRO program as ineffective.
“The argument I hear is that violence is spreading in our schools right now…we have ORS floating around our schools. Therefore, the current system is not working to keep our students safe,” said board member Robert White.
“So if the current system isn’t working to keep our students safe, and our argument is that our best bet for keeping students safe is to keep doing the same thing, then we’re fundamentally missing the point.”
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