Saturday, August 6, 2011

Campus police need to be team players

In my opinion, the pjstar did District 150 AND the general public a disservice when they ran the article on the campus police issue, without attempting to educate the public on the role of school resource officers in school turnaround. I mean really, are they trying to scare people, or what? I'm not an expert on what they do over on Wisconsin Ave., by any means, however, I do try to research and stay abreast of what is happening with the social giant that is the school turnaround process.

Some FACTS: Schools need campus police. Our schools are in the turnaround process. The changes are going to happen - they are mandated by the Department of Education.

Since the pjstar didn't bother to provide the info on SROs, let me give it a try. District 150 appears to be in the process of developing and implementing a School Resource Officer (SRO) program:

SRO Program Development

There are numerous unique challenges associated with SRO programs. Schools can be politically charged environments. There are limited amounts of funding and resources for both the police department and school system. In addition, there may be misunderstandings or mistrust by many individuals and groups concerning police officers being assigned to schools.

1. The first step in developing an SRO program is to complete an assessment. The school district must openly assess its security needs and look at the way they currently interact with the police department. When do schools call the police for assistance? How does the school report criminal offenses that occur on school property?

2. The next step is to identify those individuals who are the stakeholders in maintaining a safe school. Students, parents, school employees, community members and the police department must be brought in to discuss options in developing a partnership between the school district and law enforcement. At this point information and research on starting an SRO program should be presented to the interested parties.

3. If the School Resource Officer Program is believed to be the best option in providing police services to the school community, a project team should be assembled. The SRO project team should consist of representatives from the school system, police department and community groups.

4. At this point of the process several key issues must be explored. Who is going to pay for the School Resource Officers? What are the standard operating procedures and policies for the SRO program? How will we introduce the SRO into the school community?

State of Illinois Awards School Improvement Grant to Peoria High School


Emerge Peoria said...

Disclaimer: This posting is not to say that I agree or disagree with the institution of the SRO program at District 150 schools. School turnaround is what it is, may as well try and understand it - it's happening.

The campus police union apparently has not bought into the SRO program. Makes one wonder if they have been a part of the planning meetings that are to take place around setting up the program.

If they have been in the planning meetings, why weren't issues resolved within committee before the union coming out opposed to the change that has happened?

The letter released by the Campus Police Union President has more than likely put fear in the general public about how this is not going to be safe. Now what?

This type of dissention between agencies that should be working together is a disservice to the public.

Sharon Crews said...

First, I wonder what would happen if students were asked about how they feel about the campus police. I don't think most are at all intimidated. I remember clearly when security was first instituted in 150--then kids were intimidated. However, over the years, individual security guards have been viewed as part of the faculty and have always developed friendly relationships with most students--the ones who need to be provided a safe environment. Safety first; then friendly. Of course, recently, Dr. Lathan believed it to be wise to shuffle all security so that all familiarity was lost--stupid!

However, when two or more engaged in serious physical violence, the friendly environment has been destroyed--but not by the campus police. Working together in this administration has increasingly become "do as we say or else."

I don't think the campus police are the ones guilty of not working with administrators. I don't think they have been given any voice at all. Teachers will undoubtedly join this discussion (maybe without being asked either) because they suddenly become the "keepers of the peace." Everyone's safety is at stake. Personally, I want Debbie Wolfmeyer assigned to be on call to break up all fights.

Of course, I am a firm believer in the idea that if you want change in District 150, the issues have to be made public--otherwise nothing is ever done.

The part that is especially disturbing to me is that, I believe, the campus police are not allowed to use handcuffs to restrain a student while waiting for police. I guess the board members and administrators have never witnessed the out-of-control behavior of fighting students blinded by anger.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, well put. I saw a fight between two males last year. One of the males was trying to seriously harm the other. This wasn't a fight, this was way beyond that. It took four of the staff to pull the aggressor off. Fortunately, the staff was able to work together, and stop the fight which, they were not supposed to do. I feel that had they not intervened someone would have been seriously hurt. The Campus Police officer was out of the building, and the aggressor knew it. This was an assault that was gang related. It seems that this new administration is unaware of the fact that Woodruff was shot up a couple years ago, fortunately, the shooter was a terrible shot. Last year there was over 160 shootings in Peoria, and most of them were young black males with ties (gang and otherwise) to Dist. 150 students. Not all of campus police are great officers, but a lot of them are, they go above and beyond the call when it comes to the students. Most of them know the families, well. It would be wonderful if there were no need for armed police in our schools. But, I don't see that happening over night. I really hope, that no one gets hurt, because up till now Dist. 150 has been very lucky, ie the Woodruff incident.

Emerge Peoria said...

Anonymous - you raise a very good point: "Last year there was over 160 shootings in Peoria, and most of them were young black males with ties (gang and otherwise) to Dist. 150 students."

These shootings took place IN PEORIA - on the streets, not in the schools.

We should be outraged that the Police are not taking these criminals off the streets.

Once they get to school, it is somewhat of a safe haven - as mandated by the Department of Education - children have rights when they show up in a public school building.

For a long time in Peoria, the most disadvantaged have had their rights violated and/or overlooked when it came to public education - this is where we are now - this is the turnaround.

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge, I certainly agree that the educational rights of black young people were sorely violated before and during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. As I see it, in many respects, we've gone to the opposite extreme. Rather than turning things around, I'd like to go to the middle.

While I believe that the educational rights of all students should be protected, I do not believe that students have a right to disrupt the learning process for others and to endanger the safety of students and school personnel--those aren't actions that should be protected. The students who endanger the rights of others to an education, etc., should have their rights restricted appropriately.

I wish I could be excited about the "turnaround" concept. To me, it's just more jargon coming from expensive programs sold by those hawking their wares for profit, not for the good of students.

Emerge Peoria said...

I'm not saying I'm excited about the turn around process. I saw some students last year that I felt should have been removed from schools - but they have rights and there are processes and procedures in place to protect those rights.

Those rights were not protected in the past. Dr. Lathan, who is more aware of student’s civil rights than any other Superintendent that Peoria has ever had, is doing a lot of CYA for a District who is kicking and screaming all the way.

The ACLU should have been called in on violation of student rights a long time ago, but they were not...

So, here we are - in turnaround - with a Superintendent who has a lot of power (the mandate of DOE) as a result.

Chickens, over there are your roost.

Sharon Crews said...

I remember in the 1970's when I first arrived at Manual. One student was put up for expulsion for participating in a riot. I took the issue to Mary McDade, who helped me get representation for him. Those were the years when students were expelled permanently and with no representation.

However, I am just not aware of such inequities in today's world. Expulsion really isn't even expulsion--it is just a revolving door.

Emerge, you know that I want to understand, but I'm really lost on this issue. In what way have students' rights been violated in District 150? I am sure there are specific cases about which there is reason for disagreement. I know that there are two very different areas for discussion: violation of academic rights and/or opportunities and the one at hand right now with regard to discipline.

First, right now I would like to stick to the issue of disciplinary actions--do you know of cases where students have been treated unjustly. In my own experience in the classroom, most all students who were chronic discipline problems received chance after chance. I know of severe cases of misbehavior that should have been reported to the court system, probabtion officers, etc., but the school protected the student.

Please remember in today's schools where the discipline problems are the most severe, there are black administrators, deans, etc. The inequities that occurred in the past just can't happen today with more black authority figures.

Emerge Peoria said...


To answer your question in short... The lack of access to an equal and quality education has been a problem in District 150 schools for generations. It was when I was in school and I had to fight it as recently as last year and the year before for my daughter.

The problems we are facing now (discipline included) are a result of the years of neglect and not providing equal access.

Anonymous said...

Emerge: Obviously I like your blog, I read it all the time. You said, "These shootings took place IN PEORIA - on the streets, not in the schools." This is true, but, my point which I failed to make was, because of all the violence, its is carried into the schools. The fight(more of an assault)I witnessed started somewhere else but carried into the school. It was between two different rival factions, (there are no gangs in Peoria according to the officals, just wannabes), I can't speak for all the schools just the ones I was involved with. But all most all of it started else where but ended up in the schools. And as far as being outraged that the police aren't doing their jobs, I think they do, it is the court system and the judges that aren't the cops can only arrest the criminals, it is up to the Judicial system to deal with them.

Sharon Crews said...

Emerge, I taught only at Roosevelt Jr. High (7 years) and Manual (36)years, so my experience is just with southend kids. I did see and hear some outright bigotry in my early years from older teachers who were not open to the integration of District 150 schools.

However, I believe that there was less of the kind of unfair treatment or negative perception about which you speak at Manual because we weren't as affected by integration since black families had lived primarily in the southend prior to the 1950s-60s. Many of us, like myself, had never taught in schools that weren't either primarily black or had a significant "black" presence.

Quite honestly, I personally would never have been comfortable or sought out a job in an all white school--to me that just isn't a healthy environment.

That said, for many years Manual's enriched classes consisted of mostly white kids--I can definitely not deny that. And I know that "academic" qualifications were not the deciding factor in getting into those classes. However, I do believe that those of us who taught basic classes didn't give our students less of an education. In fact, many of our best students were enrolled in basic, not enriched, classes.

I am more than sure (and please current Richwoods teachers don't throw stones) that integration was not a welcome event in Richwoods. Actually, it took many years (and it may not be over yet) for Richwoods teachers to be happy about being forced into District 150--many had escaped to Richwoods only to find themselves back in.

I don't know on what to blame the current climate of student disrespect and the escalation of fighting, etc., in District 150 schools. However, I don't believe security guards are the cause.

I am all for working on the "causes" if we can identify them and promoting an environment in which students feel comfortable. However, diminishing the authority of teachers and security guards is not the solution. Besides I still maintain that 90 to 95% of the studednts are totally unaffected by the presence of security guards because they go about their business without calling negative attention to themselves.

I am totally against the current educational trend toward programs that ask teachers to adapt to negative student behaviors. Students who behave in appropriate ways need to be taught to adapt to a society where authority must be acknowledged. I am all for teachers doing that with love and understanding, etc., but when that doesn't work, there has to be an authority outside the classroom that administers the appropriate consequences. That kind of authority has disappeared from District 150 schools. Teachers have become the bad guys because administrators and deans want to be their friends. The roles once were reversed--as it should be.

Sharon Crews said...

Of course, I meant to say: Students who behave in INappropriate ways need to be taught to adapt to a society where authority must be acknowledged.