School board unanimously votes to keep SROs in Harrisonburg City Public Schools

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 11:15 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg School Board voted on the future of School Resource Officers (SROs) in city schools on Tuesday night. After a lengthy discussion, leaders decided they want the officers to stay.

The decision was made after months and months of thorough work by the SRO Task Force. Their role was to review and evaluate the school’s current SRO programs and make recommendations to the school board. The task force was made up of teachers, parents, and community members and leaders.

The community was also invited to be a part of several public conversations with the Harrisonburg Police Department during town hall events.

In November, task force members gave their findings and reasoning for their recommendations in a nearly 40-page report. Not everyone agreed. There was a range of recommendations, from keeping the officers in schools to getting rid of them completely.

In its recommendations, the SRO Task Force also presented an altered Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD). That is what the school board approved on Tuesday night.

The SRO program has been around for decades in Harrisonburg City Public Schools, but Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards mentioned it has not been revised in decades, but he wants to change that by conducting an annual review of the program.

“We can look at how things work, look at what data [Harrisonburg Police Chief Kelley Warner] and I put together in terms of what we’re going to collect,” Richards said. “Demographics, performance data, what [SROs] are doing in the schools, and so forth. We can adjust that clause late. Potentially, we could completely revamp the program later. This is a start.”

Richards said he hopes this will allow the school division to be more transparent and reflective when it comes to this program.

The next step is bringing the modified MOU to HPD Chief Kelley Warner to hear her thoughts.

For more information on the Dec. 7 meeting, click here.

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