Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Does every school need an SRO?

Dr. Harry Miley presented information at last night's board meeting about School Resource Officers (SRO) and their cost. You can watch his presentation on the YouTube recording after it is posted. (Edit: fast-foward to 29:30 on the timer)

State funding will add four SROs to the Richland 2 schools. How many are there now? 23.

Fifteen elementary schools do not have SROs.

Do they need them?

Do you know what the risk of a student's being killed at school with a gun is? 1:614,000,000.

What will additional SROs cost?

In response to a question from Mr. Manning, Dr. Miley quoted figures of $130,000 for first-year capital costs per SRO, plus $55,000 in operating costs per SRO. That's $180,000 per SRO!!! The District contracts with the Richland County Sheriff's Department for SROs.

Whoa! Where is the padding???

While I'm not in favor of Richland 2 having its own police department (as did a junior college back in Illinois where I lived), it could probably provide an armed, trained, qualified, school security officer for $50,000 and about $10,000 or less in "operating costs".

Employees at risk of Misconduct?

Are all employees of Richland 2 now at risk for being disciplined for Misconduct?

The school board last night revised Board Policy GBEB so that it now reads, in part,

"The following list includes, but is not limited to, actions that are considered misconduct while on duty or on or off district property, or at any time when the conduct would disrupt the educational environment or impair the employee's ability to be effective:

" * possessing weapons on school property (See policy JICI for items categorized as weapons.)"

What does Board Policy JICI say about weapons?

"While on school grounds, in school buildings, on buses or at school-related functions, students will not possess any item capable of inflicting injury or harm (hereinafter referred to as a weapon) to persons or property when that item is not used in relation to a normal school activity at a scheduled time for the student. No vehicles parked on school property may contain firearms ..."

"It is a felony offense, punishable by a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for five years, or both, to carry a weapon as referenced above on school property."

Let's say that an otherwise law-abiding, responsibly-armed teacher or staff member with a South Carolina concealed weapons permit chooses to be armed while commuting to and from work. Upon arrival at school, she or he must, according to state law, store the firearm securely (specified in the law) in the vehicle parked on school grounds.

Do the policy now mean that a staff member cannot store his/her firearm securly in his car, as allowed by state law?

First of all, JICI applies to students, not to teachers or other staff. How will the District reconcile this conflict in Policy language? Or will it?

Richland 2 has declared that some act is a felony, when the fact is that it may not be. Does JICI now apply to staff and teachers, even though nothing in Board Policy seems to specifically say so?

Now that Richland 2 is going to define a weapon as "any item capable of inflicting injury or harm", what kind of problem has it just created?

What items are capable of inflicting injury or harm? Just check out any woman's handbag. Keys? Comb? Nail file? Hair spray? High-heeled shoes? Roll of quarters? Each is capable of being used to inflict injury or harm. What about hands? Feet? Forehead? Any practitioners of karate on the staff?

Amelia McKie brought up again the substitution of "firearms" for "weapons" she apparently cannot understand that a firearm is a weapon.  The original problem came up when the public and the Board found out that two Richland 2 Emergency Services Department employees were carrying guns at work.

The superintendent said last night that he sent a Memorandum to the two ES employees. Is a Memorandum only advisory? Did he specifically rescind the authorization that had previously allowed them to carry on school grounds?

Lindsay Agostini said on October 14 that she is not necessarily opposed to armed employees. I also am not opposed, so long as the proper policy is in place. McKie had a hard time following Agostini's comment that night. Was she thinking about what she wanted to say next, rather than listening to the comment being made? Agostini was talking about the possibility of a future policy; no further question or comment was necessary.

You can view the entire discussion on YouTube, as soon as the District posts the recording.

Also, watch the comment of Kate Williams. Apparently, she was overlooked in the first Public Participation period, and Board Chair Manning moved her up, rather than making her wait for the second Public Participation period. If I heard her correctly, her statement included positions of NASRO (National Association of School Resource Officers), some of which (ex., monthly range qualifications for armed school personnel) are excessive. Few law-enforcement officers (LEO) go to the range on a monthly basis. Many departments require only annual qualification. Any LEO can go to a range as often as he wants, using his own practice ammo.