Board of Education approves hiring school resource officer
The Fayetteville-Manlius School District will soon follow in the footsteps of several neighboring school districts that employ school resource officers.
On Jan. 9, the F-M Board of Education approved hiring a school resource officer (SRO) to enhance current district wide safety and security measures. The SRO’s primary responsibility will be to mentor and educate students on the district’s Code of Conduct – both the expected behaviors according to the code and the consequences of violating the code.
Approximately 40 percent of Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES school districts employ SROs, who are on-duty police officers, and only five of those districts have populations at or exceeding the number of students at F-M High School, according to a recent survey conducted by the F-M administration. Only two districts with a population substantially less than F-M employ an SRO, according to the survey.
“Parents and community members entrust the school district with its children, and it is the district’s responsibility to ensure that students are safe and secure when in our care,” said Board President Marissa Mims. “We have adopted core values that include cultivating a school climate of civility and strong character. An SRO would help promote those values throughout our district.”
Experts, including Manlius Police Department officials, have told district officials that hiring an SRO would allow students to develop a relationship with the officer that may prevent some issues with drugs, alcohol, and bullying, including cyber bullying. A Manlius police officer currently serves as an SRO for the East Syracuse-Minoa School District.
The earliest an officer could be in place would be July 1. The SRO will be housed at the high school but available to work with students and staff at any of the district’s other five school buildings.
“We look forward to working with someone who will allow us to further our mission and goals while being a resource for us when there are incidents that require the involvement of local law enforcement, as there occasionally are in any school district,” said Superintendent Corliss Kaiser.
In December, the F-M Safety & Security Task Force – a group of 41 Fayetteville-Manlius School District community members that included F-M teachers and administrators, students, parents, and elected officials – unanimously recommended to the Board that the district hire an SRO.
“Task force members believe the addition of an SRO would enable the district to focus on continuous improvement of the safety and security of the internal and external facilities and grounds and the important work of education and mentoring of youth,” the F-M Safety & Security Task Force Final Report states. “While not at epidemic stages, drugs, alcohol, and face-to-face bullying and cyber bullying are a concern here, as in all schools.”
The task force grew out of a Board request in August for Dr. Kaiser to research the issue of hiring an SRO for the district. It evolved as part of the commitment of the Board and administration to continuously improve the educational environment for all students, as well as the work environment for its staff.
The task force met four times during November and early December. To help form its recommendations, the group heard from district officials and safety and security experts and reviewed district data on reported incidents as well as survey results from F-M students and community members on district safety and security.
On Nov. 28, J.M. Cassalia and Associates conducted a preliminary security assessment focusing on the high school. The assessment’s final recommendation was that the district centralize safety and security under one entity, as multiple staff members are currently responsible for various safety and security aspects. Hiring an SRO would fulfill that recommendation.
The F-M Safety & Security Task Force section of the F-M website includes information reviewed by the task force as well as questions and answers from the group.