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District 202 Board members,
Those of you who served with me may recall that a particular focus of my work was inequities in student discipline. My eight years on the Discipline Committee confirmed three things for me: (1) there is racial discrimination in student discipline at ETHS, (2) it is the product of stereotypes (especially about Black males) held by many (of all races) of those responsible for student safety, and (3) apart from training, the most effective way to minimize this discrimination is to eliminate from our rules the subjectivity and ambiguity that give discrimination the space to operate. I am proud of the progress we made on this matter, eliminating as disciplinary offenses, for example, “inappropriate behavior” and “defiance of authority.”
It is against this backdrop that I urge you to reject the proposal of the Moran Center (an organization with which I usually agree) to eliminate school resource officers (SROs) from ETHS. There is no evidence that SROs perpetuate racial discrimination any more than regular school safety staff. But, as officers trained in dealing with serious crime, they are literally a “resource” for exceptional events which the school would otherwise not have.
Ironically, the Moran Center’s own report “Reimagining School Safety,” confirms this. On page 15 of the report, it is noted that a National Threat Assessment Center study of violent threats to public schools found that: “In nearly one-third of the cases, an SRO played a role in either reporting the plot or responding to a report made by someone else.” One-third is a lot.
With constant reminders of the nationwide threat to our students, and with the knowledge that there are better ways to reduce discrimination in student discipline, I urge you all to retain SROs at ETHS.
Thanks for listening,