The Obama administration is asking schools and colleges to clarify the role of law-enforcement officials who serve campuses, the Washington Post reports.
According to the report, the recommendations come after several violent encounters between school police and students, sparking debate about whether authorities are actually keeping children safe or arresting them for no reason.
“The goal here is to give people a resource to do better,” Education Secretary John King told reporters during a call Wednesday, the Post notes.
The departments of Education and Justice sent letters to school nationwide encouraging school districts and colleges to make their expectations for school police explicit and clear by signing memorandums of understanding with local law-enforcement agencies. The departments recommend that the memorandums require training for school officers and also explicitly state that their role should not involve meting out day-to-day discipline, as well as other specifications.
Although the initiative is essentially guidance from the federal government, the Post notes, agencies will be required to follow it in order to qualify for federal grants that pay for the hiring of up to 150 school resource officers a year. The Post also notes, however, that the officers supported by those grants are a minority of the 31,000 school resource officers who work in public schools across the nation.
“As educators, we are bound by a sacred trust to safeguard the well-being, safety, and extraordinary potential of the children and youth within the communities we serve,” King wrote in a letter (pdf) Thursday. “In order to fulfill this trust, it is incumbent upon us to abolish the use of unnecessary school discipline practices that could deny students the opportunity to mature into capable, healthy, and responsible adults.”
Read more at the Washington Post.