Charlottesville Police removing school resource officers from city schools
A joint statement from Charlottesville City Schools, the Charlottesville City School Board, the Charlottesville Police Department and the City of Charlottesville announced the parties have mutually agreed to discontinue the Memorandum of Understanding that placed school resources officers in city schools.
“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 wellbeing of students and staff,” Chief of Police RaShall Brackney said.
“The existing MOU is not in the best interest of students and staff,” City Manager Dr. Tarron Richardson said. “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.”
The pre-closure staffing of SROs in the schools posted officers at Charlottesville High School and Buford Middle School, with a roaming officer at the elementary schools.
During the school closure, all SROs have been assigned to other patrols.
Financially, the MOU included a $300,000 annual transfer from the schools to the police to cover the expenses associated with the SROs assigned to the schools. These funds would be available to support the new model.
“Throughout my term as mayor, I’ve constantly challenged institutional structures that preserve the status-quo,” Mayor Nikuyah Walker said. “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.
“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,” Walker said. “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.”
“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,” Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins said. “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.”
“Our national search for a new model will reflect these ongoing priorities and values,” said 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.”
This topic is on the agenda at tonight’s virtual School Board meeting at 5pm, available at facebook.com/cvilleschools. During the meeting, a series of feedback sessions will be announced with the goals of receiving broad input and developing a new model by August.