The Wake County school board unanimously approved a measure last night that requires in-service training and certification for School Resource Officers.
Officers must also attend annual training sessions on topics that uniquely pertain to school environments, including cultural competency, alternatives to incarceration programs and mediation and conflict resolution processes.
Additionally, officers will be required to keep track of student referrals to the criminal justice system and explain the circumstances that caused the referral. Law enforcement agencies will be asked to report that data to the school district.
The new Memorandum of Understanding comes after a federal complaint alleged that police in Wake County schools have targeted black and disabled students.
The new MOU “represents a unified agreement” between the school district and all Wake County law enforcement agencies, according to a statement on Wake County Public Schools website.
School board member Jim Martin said the MOU also helps to differentiate the roles of SROs and those of school principals.
“This MOU moves us forward in directions that we haven’t gone in a long time,” Martin said at last night’s school board meeting. “This MOU moves us in a direction where we have a framework from which we can work. It requires mutual trust.”
But some former Wake County Schools students— and activists from the student advocacy group N.C. HEAT— think the new MOU has accountability problems, on SROs’ behalfs and on the School Board’s.
“We feel like there was not enough community input,” said Selena Garcia, a recent Southeast Raleigh High School graduate. “There is no saying in the MOU what would happen if something goes wrong between an SRO and a kid. That was our biggest issue. We’re being harassed by SROs.”
Qasima Wideman, a former Cary High School student, said students created a table for collaborative discussion about SROs, but were not invited into discussion with the Board.
“I hope in the coming weeks and months, the Board will work on its own part to create tables that are accessible and welcoming to the community,” she said.