Charlottesville discontinuing use of school resource officers
Charlottesville is discontinuing the use of school resource officers.
Charlottesville City Schools, the Charlottesville City School Board, the Charlottesville Police Department, and the City of Charlottesville made a joint statement on Thursday, June 11, announcing that they came to a mutual agreement to take SROs out of Charlottesville's schools.
The mutual agreement hinges on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that put put officers there in the first place.
“While our organizations have been in discussion about the MOU for some time, we have long supported and championed the necessity to reconsider our approach to promoting the safety and well being of students and staff,” Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said in Thursday’s release.
Each of the agencies had been discussing the MOU for months, but the process was affected by the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The existing MOU is not in the best interest of students and staff,” noted city manager Dr. Tarron Richardson. “This is an opportunity to listen broadly, to look at other approaches, and to craft a model that will serve our schools well. We will seek feedback from our citizens and explore national models.”
During a protest earlier this month,
“Throughout my term as mayor, I’ve constantly challenged institutional structures that preserve the status-quo,” said Mayor Nikuyah Walker. “Our students should be able to attend schools and not believe they will be policed for being children. A few years ago, I worked in a local private school and was amazed that similar disciplinary actions were handled differently than in the public school setting. Were the children or their actions drastically different? No! However, there was an expectation of grace that the parents demanded for their kids at the private school that isn’t afforded to our students who attend public schools.”
Walker continued, “Our public school system is an institution that mimics the prison-industrial complex rather than a safe space where students are able to unlock the jewels within their minds. SRO’s are simply one element that highlights this fact. We must commit to the creation of a paradigm that replaces this current institution that has continuously failed Black children since desegregation.”
Roughly $300,000 in the city’s annual budget goes to the salaries of SROs. That money will now go to support the new memorandum that city leaders say will better serve schools.
Before the COVID-19 closures, there two SROs posted at Charlottesville High School, one at Buford Middle School, and a roaming officer at the city's elementary schools. During the pandemic, each of those SROs have been assigned to other patrols.
“We have heard many different perspectives already on this topic. We’ve received emails from people wanting us to remove police from our schools, and we have talked with students and staff who express appreciation for the SROs they know and trust,” said Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins. “Together through conversations with the School Board, staff, students, community, the police, and the City, we will find a new pathway for supporting the needs of our students and staff in the best way possible.”
Charlottesville is developing a plan (
to lean heavily into programs supporting mental health, intentional community-building, and a positive school climate.
“Our national search for a new model will reflect these ongoing priorities and values,” noted Jennifer McKeever, chair of the Charlottesville School Board. “We must find a way to not only ensure physical safety, but also to promote mental and emotional well-being.”
The Charlottesville school district is expected to address the topic during Thursday’s school board meeting, which is set to get underway at 5 p.m. A series of feedback sessions will be announced with the goals of receiving broad input and developing a new model by August.
You can watch the meeting live at