DATE: June 12, 2020
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Albemarle County School Board Issues Statement on the School Division’s SRO Program
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – At its meeting last evening, members of the Albemarle County School Board said they have been receiving many messages from the community expressing concern about the school division’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Program. Currently, five officers are assigned to the division’s secondary schools. Further discussion on the SRO program will be on the agenda of the School Board’s next meeting on Thursday, June 18, beginning at 2 p.m. The meeting will be live-steamed at http://streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/player.htm?xml/schoolboard.xml.
The School Board said today about the SRO Program:
The Albemarle County School Board strongly supports the demonstrations across our country in support of racial justice and equality as upholding the principles and goals of our anti-racism policy. The actions these demonstrations protest, the unconscionable and abusive treatment of Blacks and other people of color, have added to our concerns for some time about the value of having School Resource Officers (SROs) in our schools.
Our concerns do not reflect on the behavior of the Albemarle County police officers who serve in our schools, but rather are about our commitment to providing all students with a safe, secure and nurturing learning environment. This requires that we make the best decisions on how to allocate resources to achieve this goal. It requires us to be sensitive to and respectful of the social and emotional well-being of all students and staff and to support programs and policies that minimize all disruptions, intentional or not, in the learning environment.
It also requires us, most especially at this time, to re-examine our relationship with the Albemarle County Police Department. Two immediate opportunities before us are the Memorandum of Understanding now being negotiated between the department and the school division as well as the need for an independent, outside evaluation of the SRO program that will include the voices of parents, students, school staff, and other members of our Albemarle County community. This needs to be completed as soon as possible.
Among our most important responsibilities to our students, families, staff and community is to ensure that our relationship with the county’s police department honors the values of our school division, including our anti-racism policy; is responsive to our public safety and protection requirements; and requests and promotes the safe, secure and nurturing learning environment that must be provided at all times to all students and staff.
Although it is important for the school division to maintain a productive relationship with the police department to ensure the security of our schools, the SRO program is not a necessary pathway. Our decision on how best to work with the police department going forward will be based upon the needs of our students and staff and making it comfortable for all who are impacted by the program to provide honest and candid input. We look forward to our meeting next Thursday in which this process will begin in earnest with a presentation and proposal from school division central staff on how to move forward.