FAIRFAX, Va. - Change is coming to a Northern Virginia school district and how it’s school resource officers interact with students.
The Fairfax County Public Schools Board approved massive revisions to its school resource officer program just months after the county’s NAACP raised concerns.
In March, the NAACP demanded the county reform its school resource officer program after the civil rights group said data indicated school resource officers were disproportionately disciplining African American and Latino students.
“This has been a national issue about student discipline and whether there’s been a pipeline from the classroom into the courtroom, we want to be sure in Fairfax County that we’re being proactive,” Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand said.
Brabrand said the revised school resource officer program establishes a clear division between the officer’s role in criminal matters and the school administration’s response to student discipline matters.
“This training is around making sure we’re better able to identify when we see kids displaying those behaviors and giving our own school officials greater awareness of the interventions and the programs we have,” Brabrand explained.
The revised policy also removes” stop and frisk” and adds mandatory training for school resource officers on implicit bias, disability awareness and cultural competency. Other key changes include ensuring students and parents are made aware of their Constitutional rights when interacting with school resource officers and ensuring parents are contacted prior to student searches and interrogations.
“We’ve already started that new training over the last two days. We met with several hundred Fairfax County Public Schools leaders," Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said. "Our goal is not to arrest a student when we don’t have to."
In a statement to FOX 5, Fairfax County NAACP President Kofi Anan said, “Though it's been a contentious process at times, the end result is that Fairfax County will have a MoU that will set the standard in Virginia and that's something we can all be proud of.”
Officials said the new policies will be in place before school starts in less than three weeks.