On Tuesday night, November 10, the BVSD Board of Education voted 6-1 to approve a resolution that directs the district to address disparities in school discipline, previously identified by district administration, and adopts the recommendations made previously by the District Accountability Committee and Equity Council, including the end of BVSD’s School Resource Officer program.
Here are the actions specifically outlined in Resolution 20-33: Addressing Equitable Discipline and Approaches to Student Conduct:
Develop a timeline and budget to accelerate the work of Strategic Initiative 6a, specifically regarding the development and implementation of equitable disciplinary practices by developing a comprehensive plan to reduce disparities in school discipline, including ending the current SRO program
Use a process to develop the comprehensive plan that incorporates diverse voice of administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community partners, specifically including people who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and have disabilities
Read more: Diverse perspectives help guide the Equity Council work and recommendation to remove SROs from BVSD schools
Assure the comprehensive plan incorporates the development of new school safety plans, revised intergovernmental agreements with BVSD’s multiple law enforcement agencies, and opportunities for the community to learn about and provide input into school safety plans
Provide quarterly updates on the process to develop the comprehensive plan, and no later than May 1, 2021 in accordance with the Board’s normal budget cycle, to present the comprehensive plan, including a target date for ending the current SRO program of January 2022.
Prior to the vote, there was discussion about the timeline and whether it would be possible to accelerate it, given the strong mandate to remove SROs in both the District Accountability Committee and Equity Council’s recommendations.
Superintendent Rob Anderson shared that time is needed to bring together the community, including schools, students and impacted families to determine what resources are needed, prior to going through the budget process, knowing that additional resources will be needed in order to provide the support and expertise schools will need, as the role of police in our schools changes and our focus turns to addressing disproportionate discipline.
He clarified that the May 1, 2021 date directly corresponds with the established budgeting process.
Anderson also acknowledged that while the resolution calls for the removal of the School Resource Officer program, law enforcement will need to continue to play a role in our schools and that it behooves the district to work through agreements with our agencies to shape what those interactions will be like in the future.
“By giving us time, you allow us to sit down with our law enforcement agencies and think through what is the best way to go about doing this. What are the agreements that we’d want to make. How do we ensure that if we don’t have our own School Resource Officers in buildings, when police officers respond to our schools, they know what to expect from us. They know their role, we know our role. We know what they are going to do and not going to do, to the extent that we are able to work those things out,” Anderson said. “When I compare what we are up against, versus other school districts that have taken on this path, is that many of them are only developing one inter-governmental agreement. We are going to need six. It is going to take time to work with our different agencies and restructure those relationships.”
Those conversations are already underway.
“We have had very good, positive, conversations with our law enforcement partners,” Anderson said. “I feel very positive about being able to work through those agreements with those agencies, in addition to our district attorney, who is also very committed to restorative processes and diversion programs to keep our students out of the court system. We have shared interests. We are excited to work together on this.”
“This is a worthy cause,” Anderson continued. “The resolution, as it stands, gives clear direction. It provides a path that is more holistic. It talks about discipline, resources and interaction with law enforcement that changes the way we do business today. That is incredibly clear.”
Following the passage of the resolution, Board of Education President Tina Marquis took a moment to directly address BVSD employees.
“Our staff and teachers are a very conscientious and committed group of people and don’t have any intention of disciplining people in a disproportionate way. There is no notion from the board or anyone that that is intentional. That is not pointing fingers or blaming or being punitive. It is just an opportunity for us to make a better environment for all of our students,” Marquis said.