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School Board SRO Vote

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School Board SRO Vote
Posted on 07/02/2020
This is the image for the news article titled School Board SRO VoteAfter a meeting that began at 6 p.m. June 30 and lasted more than seven hours, the Portland Board of Public Education voted early in the a.m. on July 1 to discontinue the district’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Portland Police Department for School Resource Officers at Deering High School and Portland High School.

Read the Board's resolution, titled "Resolution Supporting Equity in School Climate and Discipline and Ending the Use of School Resource Officers," to learn more.

The seven-hour-plus meeting can be viewed on the district’s YouTube page in two parts: 
Part 1: https://youtu.be/0dG6xflwn38
Part 2: https://youtu.be/y9PqS1W7obo

Closed captioning on the meeting is available by clicking on the “CC” icon.

Board Chair Roberto Rodriquez tweeted after the meeting: "After a 7+ hrs long mtg,  [the] Board voted 7-2 to remove SROs from our schools. We believe in #PoliceFreeSchools investing in community-building strategies that not only improve the quality of safety for students of color, but the quality of their educational experience."

Superintendent Xavier Botana said that after listening and learning regarding SROs, he supports the Board’s resolution for the following reasons: 

1. PPS schools have become too reliant on law-enforcement to address many of the behavioral issues and concerns that would be more effectively resolved by teachers, support staff and counselors who are trained in best-practices around conflict resolution and de-escalation.
2. While some students feel a sense of security seeing a police officer at school, many others – particularly students of color – experience the opposite. At a time when Black Americans are disproportionately the targets of police violence, the district cannot discount those students’ fears.
3. There is no evidence to support the contention that the presence of SROs in schools equates to increased safety. In fact, data reveals the opposite to be true. A 2019 study from the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service found that “there has been a sharp increase in juvenile arrests since the deployment of SROs” nationwide, and the effect is “especially pronounced for students of color, students with learning disabilities, and students from other vulnerable populations who may be socially marginalized or economically disadvantaged.”

The resolution redirects the use of approximately $152,000 from the SRO program to support safety and security enhancements, professional development for staff and the district’s unmet equity needs. 

The district plans to re-deploy these resources to foster a broader view on issues surrounding school safety and well-being. This will be established through collaborations with community stakeholders, including staff, students, parents, alumni, law enforcement officials, legal counsel, community-based organizations, children’s mental/behavioral health providers and youth advocates. Specific target outcomes of this process include:

1. Districtwide training and resources for parents, students and staff around conflict resolution, de-escalation and implicit bias
2. Culturally responsive practices to support all students
3. Thoughtful integration of preventive and restorative approaches, as outlined in the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support (PBIS