Arlington’s school resource officer program could see changes

School districts across the region have had similar conversations following the death of George Floyd this spring.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington Public Schools is considering whether to reexamine its relationship with the Arlington County Police Department and how it runs the district’s school resource officer program.

The Arlington Public School Board discussed the matter Thursday night at a work session for district leaders. School board members said the matter has been under discussion since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in late-May 2020.

The school board currently plans to put together a work group to figure out whether ti should keep things as they are, remove their school resource officers [SROs], or implement some other type of change.

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The school board expects the work group to be put into place by December and have it come up with a recommendation by June.

“I believe we’re at a very important civil rights moment and we have to take account of that,” said APS School Board Chair Monique O’Grady.

School district officials revealed APS’ internal data shows its Black and Hispanic students are disproportionately referred to law enforcement for certain offenses more than their white peers. However, APS also showed two surveys found most of its students say they feel safe around their campus’ SRO’s.

“We have to be mindful of the community concerns, and the needs, and the data that is impacting our students and staff,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán.

Lt. Eliseo Pilco, a school resource officer unit supervisor with the Arlington County Police Department, also chimed in during Thursday’s school board work session.

He said it is not the goal of SROs to arrest students. He said SROs aim to do things like provide threat assessments, help with after-school activities, and partner in substance abuse education programs.

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“I’m extremely proud that we have been given that opportunity,” he said. “We don’t take it very lightly.”

Other school districts in the region are having similar conversations about the future of their SRO programs.

Montgomery County Public Schools could further discuss the future of its SRO program in October.

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