Portland school board to decide whether to eliminate school resource officer program

The Portland school board will decide Tuesday whether to keep the police officers assigned to city schools.Portland could become the first school district in Maine to remove them.A majority of school board members have told WMTW News 8 that they are inclined to remove the officers from schools.For the past two decades, one police officer has been deployed full-time at Portland High School and another at Deering High School.School resource officers proliferated across the country after mass shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School and so many others.School board member Emily Figdor said she wants Portland’s SRO program to end.”We have police in our schools, armed police in our schools, at the same time that we don’t have enough school counselors, enough social workers, enough psychologists,” Figdor said.Figdor’s resolution would reallocate $150,000 budgeted to reimburse the police department for the officers and prohibit administrators from calling police “unless a student’s behavior poses a real and immediate risk or serious physical harm.””When there’s an SRO presence in our school, discipline issues that otherwise would have been handled by school staff are handled instead by the police,” Figdor said.Portland High School social studies teacher Erika Lee-Winship said the school resource officer makes her feel safer and is a mentor to students.She supports an alternative resolution to keep the officers and study the matter for another year.”I think it just gives time for voices in the community, within the school, to sit down and talk again, and to really think about what is it we want from an SRO, and it is possible to get that in a relationship with the Portland Police Department or not,” Lee-Winship said.The Maine Department of Education said there are 75 school resource officers across the state and said no district has ever eliminated one.

The Portland school board will decide Tuesday whether to keep the police officers assigned to city schools.

Portland could become the first school district in Maine to remove them.

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A majority of school board members have told WMTW News 8 that they are inclined to remove the officers from schools.

For the past two decades, one police officer has been deployed full-time at Portland High School and another at Deering High School.

School resource officers proliferated across the country after mass shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School and so many others.

School board member Emily Figdor said she wants Portland’s SRO program to end.

“We have police in our schools, armed police in our schools, at the same time that we don’t have enough school counselors, enough social workers, enough psychologists,” Figdor said.

Figdor’s resolution would reallocate $150,000 budgeted to reimburse the police department for the officers and prohibit administrators from calling police “unless a student’s behavior poses a real and immediate risk or serious physical harm.”

“When there’s an SRO presence in our school, discipline issues that otherwise would have been handled by school staff are handled instead by the police,” Figdor said.

Portland High School social studies teacher Erika Lee-Winship said the school resource officer makes her feel safer and is a mentor to students.

She supports an alternative resolution to keep the officers and study the matter for another year.

“I think it just gives time for voices in the community, within the school, to sit down and talk again, and to really think about what is it we want from an SRO, and it is possible to get that in a relationship with the Portland Police Department or not,” Lee-Winship said.

The Maine Department of Education said there are 75 school resource officers across the state and said no district has ever eliminated one.