School Policy Review Subcommittee finalizes recommendation to end SRO program



The School Policy Review Subcommittee convened virtually via Zoom on Jun. 14 at 4:30 p.m. to finalize their recommendation to the Brookline School Committee and Select Board to end the School Resource Officer (SRO) program.

The School Policy Review Subcommittee convened virtually via Zoom on Jun. 14 at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the future of the School Resource Officer Program (SRO) at the high school and finalize their recommendation to the Select Board on School Resource Officers and the Brookline School Committee (BSC).

The future of the SRO program across all Public Schools of Brookline (PSB), specifically at the high school, has been under question since results were collected from a recent student survey regarding students’ opinions on the SRO program. The SRO program works to connect students to helpful resources and support systems throughout the school and town community.

The subcommittee presented their final recommendation to suspend the SRO program to the BSC, in which they cited a variety of reasons as to why the program should be terminated.

BSC Vice Chair David Pearlman read that the SRO program influences an environment that is uncomfortable and often worrying for students, especially those who are African-American and Latinx.

“African-American and Latinx students feel less safe with SROs. We also believe that police officers should not be providing regular instruction to students and police officers should not have permanent office space in our schools,” Pearlman read. “Let alone next to the METCO office at the high school, many school committee members express concern over the intimidation factor of armed uniformed police officers permanently stationed in our school buildings.”

Pearlman also said this trend is reflected at the national level.

“Our rationale for recommending the ending of the SRO program is that both locally and nationally, the data shows that African-American and Latinx students are less comfortable with SROs,” Pearlman said.

BSC member Andy Liu said brainstorming possible solutions to keep the positive aspects of the SRO program after its dismissal is something to review further.

“Would guidance counselors be better suited for some of those components — maybe healthcare professionals? That is part of undertaking a problematic review and seeing whether a new program would better serve those stated goals,” Liu said.

Pearlman said keeping the positive aspects of the program for students despite its suspension will be challenging.

“What would replace the SRO program so that we ensure that students continue to receive the services that they have been benefiting from?” Pearlman said. “But then of course, we need to be mindful that the majority of students and the vast majority African-American and Latinx student populations did not report feeling safer or comfortable talking to SROs.”

Candidate for Brookline Town Meeting (Precinct 6) Ryan Black said the subcommittee should have examined the possible consequences and logistics of the program before implementing it.

“Was this exhaustively examined whether or not this is a good idea? I do not believe any of you were really consulted as to whether or not to kind of have this process or even put the program in place,” Black said.

Black said that this meeting and the eventual vote benefits the larger community.

“I do not think we had such an exhaustive examination when this program was put in place, so thank you for your work,” Black said. “I think that today’s deliberations have been really valuable.”