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Updated agreement further defines roles of Wake school resource officers

Posted June 3

— Many who spoke during Tuesday’s Wake County school board meeting regarding an updated agreement outlining how school resource officers interact with students have been vocal critics of the issue, including Selina Garcia, whose arrest made her a prominent face of the ongoing debate.

Garcia, 17, was arrested in March for repeatedly hitting a student on a bus and threatening a teacher at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. She spent three weeks in jail because no parent or guardian was available to take responsibility for her. Garcia was in-between foster families at the time.

Her case highlighted issues with the state foster care system and served as fuel for those who say law enforcement officers should not arrest students for issues that could be handled at school.

“I was incarcerated by an SRO who said I needed to learn a lesson,” Garcia told school board members Tuesday.

The updated agreement advises officers to work closely with school administrators, use only appropriate force and attend annual training on topics unique to school environments, such as cultural competency, alternatives to incarcerations programs, and mediation and conflict resolution processes.

“It addresses some critical areas we need to address,” said school board member Keith Sutton.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, who was not at the meeting, said he has no issue with the updated document.

But critics say the agreement has holes.

“There is a gaping exception that says school resource officers can get involved anytime there is a violation of criminal law," said Jennifer Story, an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina's Advocate for Children Services.

Story helped file a federal complaint against the school district in January, claiming school policing policies and practices "unnecessarily and unlawfully punish and criminalize minor misbehaviors and disproportionately harm African-American students and students with disabilities."

Wake County Board of Education Chairwoman Christine Kushner believes the updated agreement is a step in the right direction.

“I feel really good about where we are with this understanding,” she said.

The board is expected to vote on the agreement during the June 17 school board meeting.

 

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  • bonitallm Jun 5, 10:49 a.m.

    Many of your comments are very well stated. I do think that the SROs need additional training in cultural competency, and even youth mental health training. Clear communication between the administrators, teachers, social workers, etc with the SRO is also crucial! There are circumstances where the SRO may be "left out of the loop" of information. As you may be aware, both Durham and Wake schools are involved in legal discussions regarding the disproportionate number of youth who are disabled (inc. developmental) or youth of color being charged in school. One particular youth had diabetes and his blood sugar dropped during class - he left class after being told he could not leave. Unfortunately, he was charged by an SRO. Even more unfortunate, he had to be hospitalized for several days. He was seen as having a behavioral problem and not a medical issue - if the SRO had been made aware of this boy's medical circumstances, then I'm sure the student wouldn't have been charged.

  • GALNC Jun 5, 9:08 a.m.

    Garcia, 17, was arrested in March for repeatedly hitting a student on a bus and threatening a teacher at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. She spent three weeks in jail because no parent or guardian was available to take responsibility for her. Garcia was in-between foster families at the time.

    “I was incarcerated by an SRO who said I needed to learn a lesson,” Garcia told school board members Tuesday.

    No, you were arrested because your behavior endangered other students and teachers. Sorry, but I am a minority and I say...you need to be kicked out of school if you are a danger to others...you knew the situation and are using your lack of parent or guardian to say...poor me. What about the students you hit and teachers you threatened?

  • privilegesrevoked Jun 4, 7:45 p.m.

    So, is she supposed to be allowed to stay in school while hitting others?
    This makes NO sense.

  • LetsBeFair Jun 4, 6:03 p.m.

    How are the arrests setting them on a path down the wrong road? Actions on behalf of parenting and students created the violent situations that cause them to be arrested.

  • Stilllearnin Jun 4, 4:35 p.m.

    "There is a gaping exception that says school resource officers can get involved anytime there is a violation of criminal law," said Jennifer Story, an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina's Advocate for Children Services.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/wake-school-board-looks-at-role-of-resource-officers/13696308/#IuolxRjdwm25rVLs.99

    DUH! What do you thing law enforcement officers are sworn to do? My suggestion would be to remove them if you do not want them to do what they are trained and sworn to do and replace them with volunteers from your group!

  • U2 Jun 4, 12:14 p.m.

    school system is an education institution and not a daycare, but many parents see us as free daycare. parents don't want to deal with their kids home so they send them to us

  • tarheelfan3 Jun 4, 12:13 p.m.

    westernwake1 Jun 4, 11:31 a.m.
    '“I was incarcerated by an SRO who said I needed to learn a lesson,” Garcia told school board members Tuesday.'

    You were arrested for assaulting another student and a teacher. And according to to other students at Southeast Raleigh High School, Selina Garcia had a long term history of abusive and disruptive behavior at the school. The SRO was quite right to arrest her. Unfortunately the lesson did not sink in that irresponsible behavior is not acceptable. Instead this issue is turned around to make it that somehow a racist SRO is at fault for this entire incident.

    Well Said

  • U2 Jun 4, 12:10 p.m.

    another blow to the public education. first was teachers can not touch the child, now its SRO can not touch a child, next is police can not touch an adult. where does it end. It is very interesting that as educator I have seen that the problem children are the ones who always complain about anything, where as the good students never do, and always turn their work on time

  • Hecate Jun 4, 12:08 p.m.

    Luvliving...yes, let's get rid of the SRO's because of one incident you know, and create a more... View More

    — Posted by Brigand

    Problem is sweetie, you are misinformed…there is not one single study that shows a school... View More

    — Posted by LuvLivingInCary

    Perhaps the reason there is no good data is because the SRO prevented violent and aggressive behavior to occur at these schools....

  • Bullcity34 Jun 4, 11:35 a.m.

    The age to be charged as an adult in NC is 16 years old. So although I don't agree that if you fight you should be charged with affray every time, there should be exception such as assault on a teacher or government official. Also If there it is an assault inflicting serious injury or a weapon absolutely these kids should be charged. You can't just break the law without consequences

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