Tempe Union High School District board members voted Wednesday night to phase out school resource officers (SROs).
Board members took comments from a divided opinion of those wanting resource officers to stay in schools and others wanting to see them replaced with mental health resources like counselors and psychologists. After listening to statements from former law enforcement, students and parents, the school board made the controversial 3-2 decision to remove of all SROs from their school campuses.
The board set a timeline of August of next school year to phase out the SROs on the district’s six campuses, which include Corona del Sol High School, Desert Vista High School, Marcos de Niza High School, McClintock High School, Mountain Pointe High School and Tempe High School. All the principals in the district attempted to lobby the board not to abolish SROs.
In a resolution prepared for Wednesday’s meeting, the board believes there are “alternative school safety plans without the current usage of SROs” to keep students and staff safe while building positive community relationships and ensure a safe learning environment.
In the meeting, the district cited research by the U.S. Dept. of Education which found that Black students in the district are three times more likely to be referred to law enforcement than white students.
To phase out school resource officers, the superintendent must develop a timeline and budget to implement “equitable discipline practices.” A revised school safety plan without a police presence at schools must be submitted.
Tempe Officers Association President Rob Ferraro is disappointed in the outcome, “While the national conversation about school resource officers continues, the SROs we represent have worked hard to be an asset for the communities in which they work, building useful relationships throughout the school district and the education.