Back in my old school district, Park Ridge District 64, parents are concerned about having cops stationed at the two middle schools.
I would be worried too if one of my children has special needs or one with a disability.
Park Ridge is a predominantly white Chicago suburb.
The local district is made up of five K-5 elementary buildings and two middle schools.
Earlier this year the local board brought up the idea of placing local cops at the two middle schools.
There is no solution if there is no problem.
Parent Ginger Pennington, speaking at Monday’s school board meeting, said there was no data to indicate that officers were needed to address a crime or violence problem in the district’s schools, since only 3 percent of in-school suspensions were related to a violent incident or drugs.
“My concern is that these officers won’t have the proper training,” Pennington said.
Pennington said she was also concerned about whether the officers would be allowed to interview students without a parent present.
“We need more transparency,” Pennington said.
Board President Anthony Borrelli told Pennington that it was “unfair” to have this discussion until the policy has been completed and ready for consideration.
“Your comments have to be placed in context,” Borrelli said. “We are far, far away from passing this.”
The board voted unanimously in August to approve what board members called a pilot program to assign officers to Lincoln and Emerson middle schools. The officers would work to improve relationships between the police departments and middle school students and gather information about issues facing each schools, District 64 Superintendent Laurie Heinz said in August.
The policy could be approved by the District 64 board as soon as Jan. 22, Heinz said.
Pennington told the board that although 14.5 percent of District 64’s student population is made up of disabled students, those students account for about 67 percent of in-school suspensions and 85 percent of out-of-school suspensions, citing 2013-2014 school year data provided by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
“We don’t want to see a special-needs student dragged out of school in handcuffs,” Pennington said, adding that officers should be trained in de-escalation and conflict resolution.