By Maura Moed, MPB News
At a townhall meeting yesterday, the ACLU highlighted the importance of School Resource Officers - or SROs - regarding restraint and seclusion in the classroom.
Gerald Jones is Executive Director of Campus Enforcement at Jackson Public Schools. He says training can help SROs make and enforce proper decisions.
"It helps an individual distinguish between administrative action and criminal action. We don't criminalize non-criminal behavior. A cell phone is an administrative violation. It's not a criminal act. So, the SRO distinguishes between the two. Their job is to create and help foster a safe and secure environment," says Jones.
A student brawl in November at a Jackson high school is leaving some people concerned about SRO presence at schools.
Robert Laird is a retired Director of School Safety. He says school officers shouldn't get all of the blame when it comes to restraining a student.
"When you have that situation it's because you have poor quality administrators and principals. If a teacher is not intervening, it is the fault of the principal for not making the teacher do their job," Laird says.
Erik Fleming is with the ACLU. Agreeing with Laird, he says the training should be administered to all parties within a school system.
"The administrators should be trained to deal with the escalation. They should be trained in conflict resolution even more so than an SRO because they don't have any law enforcement capacity. So, their only weapon is to be more of a counselor or guide," Fleming says.
The ACLU is collaborating with the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities to propose a bill on restraint and seclusion in the next legislative session in January.