Nebraska Schools Propose New Evaluation Process for SROs

The proposed school resource officer evaluation process would involve five-year data trends and surveys from parents, students and staff.
Published: October 30, 2018

City and school officials in Lincoln, Neb., released a draft of an evaluation process for the school resource officer program in the district’s middle and high schools.

The evaluation would include five-year trends of school discipline, police and juvenile court data, as well as surveys from parents, staff and students, reports the Lincoln Journal Star.

The city and Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) had been working on several ways to improve school safety. One goal was to add six school resource officers (SRO) to work in LPS’ 12 middle schools.

Another goal was to create a clear description of SRO’s roles and responsibilities. LPS and city officials believe that school rules should be enforced by school administrators, not officers.

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While it was members of the community who first came forward requesting more SROs, others were concerned. Many worried having more security at schools would have a negative impact on students, especially for minorities and students with disabilities. This sparked the SRO program to be evaluated.

Leslie Eastman, LPS director of assessment and evaluation says they looked at all outcomes, looking at school and police data to determine how school discipline was being used — if it was appropriate and if minority students were being unfairly targeted.

The draft outlined the following goals:

  1. Creating a common understanding of the responsibilities of school staff and SROs
  2. Minimizing school discipline
  3. Promoting effectiveness and accountability
  4. Providing training to school staff and SROs
  5. Using practices that ensure all students are treated impartially and without bias

The data used would include:

  • Police citations and referrals to juvenile court from incidents that happened at school as well as the outcome.
  • Police calls for service to schools while school is in session, including the frequency of different incidents.
  • School discipline data — used to examine the types and frequency of offenses that are associated with citations or referrals, as well as who initiated the call.
  • Demographic breakdowns of students cited by police and disciplined by school officials compared to overall demographic of LPS students.

The Safe and Successful Kids Interlocal Board, a program approved by the district, was in charge of overseeing the development of the SRO program evaluation process, according to KForNow.

Surveys conducted by LPS were also included in the evaluation. Students, staff and parents were questioned about how they perceived school safety and the actions of SROs.

Officials also proposed tracking how long SROs spend giving educational presentations and then study what kind of impact the presentations have on students.

LPS will be hosting a public meeting on Nov. 8. where community members can be a part of the discussion about the proposed draft.

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