Why a viral video has administrators rethinking SROs

Educators are also working to prevent behavior outbursts with new intervention techniques.
By: | February 26, 2020
Police officers' role in school safety is under scrutiny thanks to video of the arrest of a 6-year-old charter student in Orlando, Florida.(gettyimages.com: SDI Productions)Police officers' role in school safety is under scrutiny thanks to video of the arrest of a 6-year-old charter student in Orlando, Florida.(gettyimages.com: SDI Productions)

The role police play in school safety is again under scrutiny thanks to video of an officer in Orlando, Florida, arresting a 6-year-old student and zip-tying her hands.

Body camera footage of the September, 2019, incident that emerged this week shows the girl begging Officer Dennis Turner not to arrest her after he’d pulled from a charter school for kicking and punching teachers, the Associated Press reported via Yahoo News.

Turner, a reserve officer, was fired shortly after the incident last year, and charges against the girl were dropped, according to the report.

Jeff Kaye, president of California-based School Safety Operations Inc., told the Associated Press that the video led many school administrators contact him about reviewing their SRO programs.

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Also in the Orlando area, the family of a middle school student, 13, intends to sue after the girl’s hair was pulled by a school resource officer working for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, WKMG-TV reported on its ClickOrlando.com site.

Prosecutors also announced that the former deputy, Harry Reid, would be charged with battery in the November incident, according to WKMG-TV.

Reid was fired after video of his encounter with the girl went viral, the station also noted.

Advocates of school resource officers believe they are best suited to respond to any and all threats but critics say their mere presence results in suspensions, expulsions and arrests, especially for students of color, according to NPR.

Still, SROs are becoming routine parts of the school community in many parts of the country. A new law in Kentucky requires all school resource officers to carry guns, WLKY-TV reported. Officials in Franklin County, Virginia, said this week they want to add more SROs to protect students, WSLS-TV reported.

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Is PBIS an alternative to SROs? 

School administrators are increasingly adopting new intervention techniques that help educators reduce the chances students will have outbursts.

When students have behavioral problems, PBIS—or, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports—encourage teachers to look for causes, such a student’s slack of sleep, chronic stress at home or poor nutrition, Lori Desautels, an assistant professor in the College of Education at Butler University in Indiana, told District Administration in September.

Instead of asking “What’s wrong with this student?” educators should ask, “What happened to this student?”

Anxiety is the new learning disability in our country right now,” Desautels told DA.

More educators are also trying to“pre-intervene” before learners ever run into trouble by using PBIS and other social-emotional learning techniques with all students, DA reported.

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