Both the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) have announced an extensive review of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in schools.
The review comes after London Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizers said the presence of police officers in schools could trigger feelings of anxiety for Black and Indigenous students.
“Hearing concerns from members of the wider community that the SROs can be triggering, we wanted to respond to that,” LDCSB superintendent of education Kathy Furlong said.
Over the course of the 2021-22 school year, she said an independent third-party group, the Centre for Organizational Effectiveness, will do a review of the program’s effectiveness in the schools.
The review is a collaboration of the LDCSB, TVDSB, London Police Service, St. Thomas Police Service, OPP (West Division) and Woodstock Police Service.
“This process will allow us to engage with the community and together find a path toward reconciling past systemic injustices,” said TVDSB education director Mark Fisher.
The centre’s founder, Maria Sanchez-Keane, said the review will allow for conversations that, “at times, can be delicate, charged and difficult.”
The review will include consultations with the school community and look at students’ feelings and experiences with the SRO program.
Furlong said they also plan to consult with BLM organizers, since they were the ones who initially made the request, and that they are prepared to implement and take whatever action the review recommends.
“Thames Valley is committed to making the necessary changes to attitudes and practices in our system that enable racism, discrimination and bias,” said Fisher.
“We can and must do better.”