Sara Sandstrom, Nederland. On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, Boulder Valley School District’s Board of Education listened to recommendations involving school resource officers (SRO) in BVSD. Recommendations were presented by the District Accountability Committee (DAC) and the newly formed Equity Council. This conversation was initiated by Superintendent Rob Anderson this summer.
Both committees took time to look at all aspects of the task they were given. They looked at what data could be found, conducted interviews and heard many voices and opinions on the subject. It became clear that the expectations and accountability of SROs in the schools is not clear. Also, like in so many school districts in the United States students of color are disciplined disproportionately to white students.
Each committee gave the Board a different set of recommendations. However, there were connections and similarities to the recommendations. One of the main themes presented to the Board was that BVSD needs proactive strategies not reactive strategies.
The committees advocated to end the current SRO program and remove all SROs from BVSD schools. Working with local law enforcement agencies will be needed in some circumstances. BVSD needs to partner with law enforcement and the community to come up with clear expectations for safety and security in schools.
Another recommendation brought to the Board is to expand the mental health and trauma informed health professionals at schools. BVSD staff should receive bias and anti-racist training. Student voices need to be heard throughout the process of school safety issues, especially BIPOC and LGBTQIA students.
Board members brought up budget issues that will need to be addressed with these changes. Budgets discussions are exceptionally difficult during a pandemic. It was also clear that change needs to happen and BVSD needs to look at safety and security in an entirely new way. Changes need to focus on preventative measures and looking at how the entire system of discipline needs to change.
DAC Chairman Ralph Frid said, “The problems we have do not originate from school resource officers. The symptoms, however, do appear at that juncture and if we are going to help students, we need different skills in the handlers of these children. Training that helps to de-escalate situations and ensures that they are proactive and working with students to prevent issues.”
BVSD Board President Tina Marquis said that the Board will need to draft a resolution to move forward to make changes. This is expected at the October 27, 2020, meeting.
Dr. Anderson said, “This is an exciting opportunity to do better by our kids.”
(Originally published in the October 29, 2020, edition of The Mountain-Ear.)