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Updated agreement further defines roles of Wake school resource officers

Posted June 3, 2014

— 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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  • disgusted2010 Jun 3, 2014

    So, things are so bad we have to have police in schools, but IF the officers do their jobs they are racists.

    Got to love the political correctness that is fast taking this country into the toilet.

  • Todd Jenkins Jun 3, 2014

    I work in one of the middle schools off Davis Drive and the school resource officer handcuffed a special needs student last Fall. The SRO used every alibi of the law to justify the actions. The school system definitely needs to have the school Police officer powers limited….Maybe even get rid of them all together. They somehow have forgotten they are dealing with school kids little along special needs kids and not armed robbers.

  • Brigand Jun 3, 2014

    Luvliving...yes, let's get rid of the SRO's because of one incident you know, and create a more chaotic, less safe environment at all the high schools. Makes sense to me!...

  • ali817959 Jun 3, 2014

    Wake county public school system sucks.

  • hardworker Jun 3, 2014

    Just like everything else in the world... No matter how good someone or something acts, especially law enforcement; they are not praised for doing their job because they go out in this harsh world and yes this world has harsh teens and they are not guaranteed to come back home. So before you judge law enforcement actions, think about if that was you their shoes for a moment. Only if most people knew how bad, mean, and rude some of our teenagers are they would want law enforcement in every school. Moral of the story is.. we are so quick to judge on one bad incident that we get blinded by the negativity. I work in the school system and let me say this... OUR kids are NOT all rosy and sweet and some will test and try you because they think they are excluded from the law.

  • justabumer Jun 3, 2014

    If one group is affected more than others perhaps we should be considering why the behavior of that group is so much worse than others.

  • hardworker Jun 3, 2014

    How could someone play the racist card in this situation??? It's 2014 and only a coward is racist. Lets face the facts. Yes there are people who are racist in this world who are closer to you and I than we think but if a white officer know that a home of black owners is burning up do you think they are not going to try to save a life? Yes they will try!

  • pamjerro Jun 3, 2014

    I have worked in alternative schools in Wake County for 23 years. My experience has been that students can be dangerous and the police only step in whenever the school administrator either does not handle the situation or cannot handle it. I have worked with a number of terrific officers who make every effort to talk with kids and mentor them. Let's not make RPD the goat.

  • Alexia Proper Jun 3, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Likely, it can't be proven, either. After all, the police can go to a school with minutes of a 911 call. Maybe that is too long to stop a lone gunman who enters the school. But, I'm pretty sure no single officer on campus is going to stop a determined lone gunman. They can't be everywhere at once.

    Meanwhile, there is constant tension between the police and students. The police carry an attitude and kids don't like it. I'm generalizing, but that's what my son tells me.

    The only reason there are officers in schools is Columbine, right? That started this whole zero tolerance mess. That also created tension. We need to take a step back and figure out where the train ran off the tracks.

  • Suzanne Reichert Cromer Jun 3, 2014

    Well, maybe if parents started being parents to these kids that have given us a need for resource officers, then may they would not be so necessary. But, since these parents don't want to step up to the plate and teach basic respect and responsibility this is what we have come to. I have two in high school and had the resource officer not been there during a couple of incidents the situations could have ended much worse. Teach your child how to behave in public and stop expecting the schools to do it!

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