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Extension of school resource officers program will give ACPS time to map out future, says superintendent

Alexandria Police cruiser (staff photo by James Cullum)

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. wants another year of funding for the school resource officer program — time he says that will allow Alexandria City Public Schools to map out its future without a rush.

Hutchings says the extension will allow for the formation of a School Law Enforcement Advisory Group next month, which will closely study the SRO program and hammer out a proposal for a new bi-annual memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Alexandria Police Department in December.

“What we are asking the Board is to inquire that request with the City Council to extend the timeframe for our SRO funding so that we can have the adequate time to really work through the advisory group, and bring a recommendation to the board that’s not in a rushed format,” Hutchings told the Board Thursday night.

In the meantime, the $800,000 program will continue as-is, with the specially trained police officers stationed within Alexandria’s two middle schools and the Alexandria City High School Minnie Howard campus. There are no SROs at Alexandria City High School’s King Street campus since both officers placed on leave after a “serious complaint” from a former student alleging “sexually inappropriate conversations” while she attended ACHS. The determination on returning SROs to ACHS is up to Alexandria Police, which has rotated detail officers in and out of the school on a daily basis.

Some are unhappy about the extension, including Sindy Carballo Garcia, a youth organizer for Tenants And Workers United.

“It’s still unacceptable that the data keeps on showing the same results, that among all students being arrested, primarily black students are the ones that are that are being arrested in disproportionate percentages,” Garcia told the Board during the public comment portion of the meeting. “It is unacceptable that we do not prioritize programs such as mental health and restorative practices, and fully invest in them to implement them correctly to meet the needs of students by truly supporting students and having trusted trained adults that understand and serve young people.”

The advisory group will be formed and presented to the School Board at its meeting on April 21.

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