School resource officers need the tools to strike a balance between their job of keeping schools safe and the privacy rights of students, a white paper by the American Civil Liberties Union says.
The officers, often called SROs, are sworn police officers who work in schools, particularly at the secondary level. In the report, authors Catherine Y. Kim and I. India Geronimo argue that in the absence of a formal governance document, school districts run into problems because officers sometimes don’t realize that schools are different from other places where police officers work.
As a result, they write, many students are being arrested or referred to courts for “minor disciplinary infractions.”
The report recommends that a training program be established, that the parameters of school policing be explicitly defined, and that officers operate in a transparent fashion that respects students rights.
A version of this article appeared in the September 02, 2009 edition of Education Week