I am writing to oppose adding an armed School Resource Officer (SRO) to our school community.
Our daughter graduated from PHS just last June. Throughout her high school years, I volunteered on the PHS Parent Board and on the PHS Challenge Success Committee. Year after year, our students faced social/emotional issues that included stress, loneliness/alienation, and depression. Our school’s Healthy Student surveys repeatedly showed that these issues rose to the top. By contrast, students did not report struggling significantly with tobacco (although vaping is on the rise) or that the school environment felt unsafe. It would not seem that an SRO is the right fit to address the primary challenges of our students.
I also am concerned about the messaging that would result from appointing an SRO. I suspect that most people in support of an SRO believe that the addition of an armed police officer would add to campus security. Should students feel that their campus is unsafe and that we need a police officer on grounds? If so, after the tobacco grant funds run out, how will Piedmont either explain that an armed SRO is no longer needed or pay for this additional employee in light of budget constraints?
Numerous studies have found negative impacts on families of color if an SRO is introduced into schools. I would like to see more diversity in Piedmont schools, not less.
Finally, I believe that the School District does a laudable job of handling, with discretion, the myriad mistakes and follies of students whenever possible. I am not convinced that an SRO, a police officer, would always agree with the District’s discretionary calls, leading to foreseeable conflicts with students and their families if students’ non-felony-level mistakes were more frequently criminalized.
I believe that the potential risks outweigh the potential gains in adding an SRO to Piedmont schools.