fbpx
Connect with us

Education

La Crosse School District announces change in School Resources Officer plan

Published

on

The La Crosse School District has made a change in its plan for School Resource Officers.

In a statement released late Friday, the district announced it intends on keeping three School Resource Officers (SROs) through the 2022-23 school year.

The La Crosse School Board had intended on removing one more officer in July, bringing the number of SROs down to two. This reduction by the district began in December of 2020, when it announced a reduction of SROs from five to three by July 1, 2021. The next step was to go to two in July.

La Crosse Schools superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel will be on La Crosse Talk PM on Tuesday to discuss the change, along with other school news. The show begins at 5:07 p.m. on 92.3 FM / 1410 AM, the WIZM App or online here.

In an investigation into the SRO program, the board found that that there were markers of the school-to-prison pipeline present in the La Crosse School District.

There is also evidence that minority students are negatively impacted by SROs. Minority students reported feeling unsafe or fearful of the SROs and are disproportionately suspended or expelled.

Recently, students circulated a petition advocating for the SROs to remain in the schools. The petition received over 300 signatures. Students also addressed the school board on two different occasions — one to present the petition — asking the board to keep the three officers currently staffed. 

In the statement, the school board explained that there have been changes since the initial review of the SRO program in 2020.

“Juvenile arrest rates and out-of-school suspensions in La Crosse are now average when compared to similar school districts,” the statement read in part. “These efforts have made a positive impact on one of the goals of the SRO program, maintaining a safe and secure environment on school grounds while minimizing youth exposure to the criminal justice system.”

The statement goes on to say that over the past two years, the district focused on social service and mental health programs and that these programs need time to reach their full potential. 

“As proactive social services and restorative practices are built up, to ensure the availability of a specially trained officer to respond to legitimate legal and safety issues involving students, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aaron Engel has decided that the number of SROs contracted through the MOU with the La Crosse Police Department will remain at three for the 2022-23 school year. The School District will continue to monitor and evaluate the SRO program.”

The full statement can be read here:

District updates school resource officer memorandum of understanding

In December 2020, the School District of La Crosse released a School Resource Officer (SRO) Program Evaluation Report identifying recommendations to improve practices related to school discipline and law enforcement involvement with students. Those recommendations included increasing proactive social service and restorative practices, the creation of a School Discipline Committee and an SRO Advisory Committee, and reducing the number of SROs working in La Crosse schools.

An ongoing evaluation of the SRO program considered data relative to the goals of the program. Changes in the philosophy and practices of the School District of La Crosse and La Crosse Police Department led to a significant reduction in juvenile arrests and out-of-school suspensions. Data shows that since 2019 the juvenile arrest rate in La Crosse fell from 14% to 3.9% and the out-of-school suspension rate fell from 12.5% to 1.5%. Juvenile arrest rates and out-of-school suspensions in La Crosse are now average when compared to similar school districts. These efforts have made a positive impact on one of the goals of the SRO program, maintaining a safe and secure environment on school grounds while minimizing youth exposure to the criminal justice system.

Data on calls for service and SRO response rates were examined to analyze another goal of the SRO program, increasing the likelihood that responding officers to school incidents have special training and/or dispositions to support school-age youth. This school year, of the 939 school-based calls for service, SROs were available to respond 72% of the time; a non-SRO patrol officer responded 28% of the time. A call for service assessment found that SROs were called for appropriate incidents that were beyond typical juvenile behavior and involved legitimate safety or legal issues.

The School District rapidly expanded proactive social services and mental health interventions over the last two years. However, the pandemic impacted the ability of these programs to meet the increased needs of students. Additionally, social service programs and mental health interventions are most effective over time and have yet to fully realize their impact on students. It is anticipated that the needs of students will remain high over the next year due to the impacts of the pandemic.

As proactive social services and restorative practices are built up, to ensure the availability of a specially trained officer to respond to legitimate legal and safety issues involving students, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aaron Engel has decided that the number of SROs contracted through the MOU with the La Crosse Police Department will remain at three for the 2022-23 school year. The School District will continue to monitor and evaluate the SRO program.

Sam is a student at UW-La Crosse studying media communication and political science. She has lived in La Crosse for 5 years and loves everything about the community. When she’s not at school or work, you can find her outside hiking the state parks or watching Netflix with her two cats.

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mayor of the Northside , Kent

    May 23, 2022 at 5:16 am

    Bad idea to take away the school RESOURCE OFFICERS , They are there to help the kid’s , if something bad happens to our kids , I can rest on the shoulders of this WOKE school board , the WOKE Mayor , and the WOKE school district Superintendent

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.