School board reviews memorandum for resource officers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rowan-Salisbury middle schools haven’t had school resource officers since the 2009-2010 school year, but a grant awarding the school system $234,000 over the next two years will change that.
The Board of Education reviewed a memorandum of agreement concerning resource officers during their meeting Monday night.
The purpose of the memorandum is “to be clear about the expectations of school resource officers,” according to Assistant Superintendent of Operations Nathan Currie.
Board members decided they wanted to further discuss and tweak some of the language in the document before giving it final approval.
They will review it and send their feedback to Currie, who will make revisions to the document before bringing it to the board for a second reading at their next meeting.
The General Assembly allocated $7 million for elementary and middle school resource officers last year, and the Board of Education applied for the grant in September. The board received the grant in December and hopes to have officers in the six schools that do not currently have one by the end of February, according to Currie.
The state will provide $234,000 for training and paying resource officers at Rowan-Salisbury middle schools over the next two years. Each year, the Board of Education will match that amount with an additional $117,000. Local police departments and the sheriff’s office will provide equipment to officers such as vehicles and uniforms.
Rowan County Sheriff’s Department will provide officers for West Middle, Southeast Middle and Erwin Middle schools, while North Rowan Middle will be served by the Spencer Police Department and the China Grove Police Department will serve China Grove Middle. Corriher-Lipe Middle will be served by Landis Police Department.
The city of Salisbury will continue to fund the officer at Knox, the only middle school in the school system that currently has a school resource officer.
During the interview process, each law enforcement agency will take the lead, but the principal of the school and Currie also serve as members of the interview team.
Officers will be regular law enforcement officers employed by local police or sheriff’s department, but will each be assigned to a middle school campus.
The memorandum of agreement provides school resource officers with same types of benefits, equipment, supplies and training as any other law enforcement officer and they are required to maintain the same certifications.
The memorandum states that the goals of the program are to “improve student learning, student attendance and the overall quality of the educational program for students and educators.”
Officers are required to maintain a highly visible presence on their assigned school’s campus and attend school functions, including athletic events.
In addition to handling situations where the law is violated, they also seek to prevent crime by being a positive role model, interacting with students, their families and school staff, as well as presenting on gang and drug abuse prevention.
School resource officers are not supposed to be involved in enforcing school policies that do not result in violations of the law.
Officers are to regularly communicate with principals, discussing issues and responsibilities.
Although school resource officers are employed by local law enforcement agencies, they are responsible for regularly communicating with the principal at their school.
If a principal feels a school resource officer is not meeting expectations, they can address their concerns with the superintendent. The superintendent can then go to the law enforcement agency that employs the officer and request a replacement officer.
In other news, the Board of Education:
• Discussed updates on litigation and mediation with the board’s attorneys. Judge Willis Whichard, the mediator between county commissioners and the board, has not yet made a rule on an impasse between the two groups. Chairman Dr. Richard Miller explained that Whichard was out of town during the second half of last week, but expects he will be “expeditious in giving an answer” one way or another.”
• Unanimously approved the student transfer policy on a second reading. There were minor changes, and putting off online transfers until the 2014-2015 school year.
• Unanimously approved adopting the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s superintendent evaluation. The ongoing evaluation provides “consistency and uniformity in the process” and will evaluate Dr. Lynn Moody comparably to how teachers and principals are evaluated, according to Miller.
• Unanimously approved the volunteer policy on a second reading and the personnel report as presented.
• Unanimously approved new course offerings for new school year.
• Unanimously approved field trip for Mt. Ulla Elementary School fourth-graders April 30-May 2.
• Reviewed the Dec. 2013 budget resolution.
• Asked Moody to discuss the “redirection” of Salisbury High School’s AP Environmental Science field trip. The board also asked Currie to review chaperone policies for future trips.
• Tabled a petition from the North Carolina Association of Educators until their Feb. 6 meeting regarding legislation that requires school boards to offer four-year contracts to 25 percent of teachers in the district.
• Discussed the effects of the Affordable Health Care Act on substitute teachers. Substitutes can’t work more than 30 hours a week, which causes a strain on the sub pool. Proposed solutions include utilizing teacher’s assistants and buying teachers’ planning periods.