ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Alexandria school board members discussed the future of school resource officers (SROs) after receiving recommendations from an advisory group Thursday night.
The School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP), which consists of ACPS staff, students, community members, and police department staff provided 17 suggestions to the board about how to move the school division’s SRO program forward.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) first set up SLEP in the fall of 2021 following community disagreement on whether SROs should be in schools at all.
After many Americans protested racial injustice following the death of George Floyd in 2020, the Alexandria City Council decided to stop funding SROs at the beginning of the 2021 school year. However, just three months later, the ACPS school board requested SRO funding be restored. It also, eventually, formed SLEP.
SLEP held several meetings on how to improve ACPS’ SRO program between June and December. It ultimately presented its list of recommendations to ACPS schools leaders Thursday morning before going on to discuss their suggestions with the board later that night.
First, SLEP voiced its support for continuing funding for the SRO program.
SLEP also supported the adoption of multiple equity initiatives including the study of minority student arrest rates, reporting on criminal disciplinary outcomes, and de-escalation professional development training for SROs.
At Thursday’s meeting, multiple school board members said they appreciated SLEP’s efforts and ideas.
“At the end of the day, we can’t just be reactive, we need to be proactive, so I applaud SLEP for thinking about restorative practices," said ACPS school board member Abdel-Rahman Elnoubi.
Only one person spoke against continued funding of an SRO program at the meeting.
“Other community members and I believe the cost incurred by our SRO program is too high, in more ways than one," one community member said.
The school board will eventually speak to ACPS’ interim superintendent about how it would make any of these recommendations work, if ultimately adopted.
After that, the board will decide which SLEP suggestions it likes and doesn’t like.
Finally, it will have a discussion with city council as to how to move forward with the SRO program. The city council holds oversight of policing in Alexandria, according to school board members.
Their input will help decide if the SRO program is adopted, for another year, in ACPS.