Chicago Public Schools Set to Dismantle SRO Program Following Landmark Board Decision

Chicago Public Schools Set to Dismantle SRO Program | Future Education Magazine


In a landmark decision, the Chicago Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to remove school resource officers (SROs) from Chicago Public Schools (CPS), marking a significant shift in the district’s approach to school safety. The mandate for SRO removal is set to take effect at the beginning of the next school year.

The decision comes after extensive public discourse, with impassioned arguments from both proponents of district-wide SRO removal and those advocating for schools to retain the authority to make such decisions independently.

The resolution passed not only eliminates the existing SRO program but also establishes a comprehensive school safety policy for all Chicago Public Schools, putting an end to a practice that had its inception in 1991. Currently, only 39 out of the district’s 634 schools utilize SROs.

Advocates for the removal of SROs celebrated the unanimous vote, asserting that redirecting resources toward teachers and counselors would be more beneficial for students.

City Council Debates School Resource Officer Removal

Brenda Delgado of Brighton Park expressed the sentiment of many advocates, stating, “Our children need counselors, they don’t need cops.”

Arguing for a more supportive and nuanced approach, Andrea Ortiz emphasized the importance of social workers and counselors over police presence. “They are not capable of handling the complexities of young people. Schools should invest in teachers, social workers, and counselors who are educational professionals,” Ortiz asserted.

Despite the broad support for the decision, some members of the City Council vehemently opposed the move.

38th Ward Alderman Nicholas Sposato criticized the decision as “reckless,” emphasizing the importance of SROs in maintaining a sense of safety for students.

Others in the City Council suggested that the choice should be left to individual schools, advocating for flexibility based on the unique needs of each school community.

Former board member Dwayne Truss criticized the decision, claiming it lacked community input. Truss argued that the presence of officers contributes to students feeling safer during the school day.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Martinez Unveils Sweeping Policy Plan

While acknowledging that changes will not be implemented immediately, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez outlined the plan for the development of a comprehensive districtwide policy by the start of the 2024-25 school year. Martinez highlighted the intention to solicit public input during the policy development process.

Financially, Chicago Public Schools has budgeted at least $10 million for the SRO program in each of the past three school years. In contrast, the district has significantly invested in social-emotional learning, allocating more than $30 million in the 2022-23 school year, a figure that has grown to over $35 million in the current year. This investment encompasses a social and emotional learning curriculum, behavioral health supports, and additional social workers and counselors.

The proposed policy, reflecting the unanimous decision, is scheduled for final approval by the Board of Education at the end of June, signaling a transformative step toward redefining school safety and resource allocation in Chicago Public Schools.

Also Read: Chicago Board of Education Unanimously Votes to Remove Police Officers from CPS Schools

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