Framingham School Committee makes recommendations on police officers in schools July 6, 2020
Zane Razzaq 508-626-3919 Framingham Tab
The Framingham School Committee has unanimously recommended that the district undertake a series of changes to improve a program that places police officers in school buildings.

FRAMINGHAM - The School Committee has unanimously recommended that the district undertake a series of changes to improve a program that places police officers in school buildings.

The recommendations were put forth by the Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Subcommittee.

"We realized that while there are passionate voices on both sides of this issue, there are some structural issues with the program surrounding the SROs (school resource officers) in the school that leaves a bit to be desired," said District 5 member Priscila Sousa, who chairs that panel.

Recommendations include:

Revise the current agreement and specify processes;

Automatic reports to be made to Superintendent of Schools Robert Tremblay, Assistant Superintendent for Equity, Diversity and Community Development Joseph Corazzini and Director of Safety and Security Scott Penrod whenever there is a hands-on incident;

Hold "Know Your Rights" training for students;

Arrange quarterly meetings between officers and student representatives from middle schools and high school;

Provide de-escalation training for professionals on all levels;

Discuss what officers in schools do;

Get as much data as there currently is on interactions between officers and students.

The city currently has two officers dedicated to the Framingham school district and one dedicated to Joseph P. Keefe Technical High School.

Last month, a petition called for the shedding of school resource officers from local schools as well as the district's director of safety and security position. The petition was written by the group Framingham Families for Racial Equity in Education.

There is also a counter-petition calling for the district to keep the officers.

School resource officers are accounted for in the city's budget, while the director of safety and security is in the school budget. According to the petition, more than $500,000 is spent annually on school policing, not including transportation, overtime and other costs.

"Those funds would be better used to add equity to families within the school system to improve in areas of academic, economical and health and wellness, not through intimidation but through access to appropriate technology and enrichment resources. In numerous conversations and speeches, administrators have acknowledged the discrepancies in equity, but have failed to change actual policies and practices," reads the Framingham Families for Racial Equity petition.

"I don't know what it's like, I come from white privilege," said Vice Chairwoman Tiffanie Maskell, of District 7. "I don't understand that issue a lot of our kids are facing. Just because my experience is one way doesn't mean another child, another student's experience is not valid."

Members said they lacked clarity and data, with some not understanding what officers do inside schools.

"It was difficult to come to any conclusions because it wasn't clear what the SRO did and no one knew that," said member Geoffrey Epstein, District 6. "It wasn't written down anywhere, at least that we had access to ... if we're going to have SROs, they should have some policy that governs their presence in the school."

On Monday, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled the Reform, Shift + Build Act. Among a number of reforms, the bill seeks to reduce the "school-to-prison pipeline" by ending the requirement that districts employ school resource officers, according to a release.

The topic of officers in schools has also been referred to the Policy Subcommittee for further review.

What exactly does the school's Director of Safety and Security do for a living? If the school has cameras, who gets the camera feeds?

Why would he have armed police officers in his school? It's only a matter of time before one of FPD's finest leaves his gun or taser in the restroom to be found by inquisitive minds.

Why not hire two large students who have aspirations to be FPD police officers and provide them with on the job training. Co-op experience.

My biggest concern about SROs from FPD is the weapons they carry. Let's put Paul Duncan in there and see if he trips again (near some student of color of course).

SROs would be a good start on the use of body cameras. Failure to turn on the camera on an encounter constitutes criminal intent and should result in the loss of job.

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