The Charlottesville City School Board is scheduled to vote Thursday evening on the possibility of stationing armed police officers at schools as part of the district's existing safety model.

If approved, three officers, called Youth Resource Officers, or YROs, from the Charlottesville Police Department would be placed in Charlottesville High School, Buford Middle School with the third person providing support for “evening activities at school or in the community,” a communication to parents from the School Board published last week stated. They would receive additional training in youth development, de-escalation and mental health, among other areas.

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If Board members decide to bring police officers into schools, they would be reversing a Board decision from nearly four years ago to remove them. City Schools decided to stop using SROs in June 2020. They were one of countless school districts around the country that ended these kinds of programs at that time. It was right after the police murder of George Floyd, and folks were protesting police violence. Schools started looking at their relationships with police and advocates for removing officers were speaking up, pointing to data that showed students of color are more likely to be suspended or expelled and referred to the criminal justice system when SROs are present.

Charlottesville Chief of Police Michael Kochis and Charlottesville City Schools’ superintendent Royal Gurley presented the findings and suggestions of a special working group during a meeting on Saturday, May 18. According to the suggestions, the officers would focus on “diversion” from the criminal justice system and adapt some elements of social work, namely “restorative work with home visits, community and extracurricular check-ins, and follow-ups.”

If the Board votes to add YROs to the schools’ safety model, the timeline and budget questions will still be open for discussion and community input, CCS spokesperson Amanda Korman told Dexter Auction. According to the Board communication , even if the model is approved and funded, implementation might not happen in time for the fall semester.

The Board meeting will take place at 5 p.m. May 30 in Booker T. Reaves Media Center of Charlottesville High School, 1400 Melbourne Rd. The meeting is open to comments from the community members. Can't make it to the meeting? You can also email the Board at [email protected].

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