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Wed June 4, 2014
Wake Schools Want To Monitor Police-Student Interactions
The Wake County Public School System has proposed a new agreement with local law enforcement regarding the use of police inside the schools.
School Resource Officers are local law enforcement patrolling the county's 26 high schools and 33 middle schools, one to each school.
The school board discussed publicly for the first time Tuesday night a new "Memorandum of Understanding" -- or MOU -- that would require specialized training for officers who will work with public school children. The agreement also requires more rigorous reporting of SOR-student interactions.
"Including, but not limited to; interactions with students with disabilities," said Dr. Marvin Connelly, WCPSS's Chief of Staff and Strategic Planning . He also noted he wants to "ensure we don't have disproportionate minority contact."
Wake SROs have been scrutinized for what civil rights groups have argued is unfair treatment toward minority students. They say the SROs are too quick to arrest students, thus putting a criminal charge on their record early in life.
The new agreement hopes to quantify these interactions in a way the school system has not tried before in earnest.
"Law enforcement agencies as well as the school system will collect data about SRO contact with students so we can analyze that data to identify if we have any disproportionate minority contact," said Connelly.
Student groups have been vocal about their mistrust of police policies with schools.
"We want to see them being held more accountable," said Selina Garcia, a recent graduate of Southeast Raleigh High School who was arrested in March for an altercation on a school bus.
"We want to see the principals in our schools making more decisions before they just overturn the kids to the SROs. We want the SROs to be properly trained with how to deal with typical teenage issues as opposed to your everyday, criminal-on-the-street issues."
Law enforcement and the school system worked collaboratively on the new agreement, according to Connelly. The proposal will be voted on in full on June 17. The current agreement expires at the end of the month.