Phoenix Union will no Longer have School Resource Officers
The Phoenix, AZ, Union High School District (PUHSD) is deciding how to spend more than a million dollars of its budget that would have gone to school resource officers. This summer, the district chose not to renew its contract with Phoenix Police, creating the now available fund. The district will no longer have school resource officers, and will be taking new direction for campus safety.
"This process today is going to allow us to strengthen what we call our safety systems on our campuses," said Dr. Chad Gestson, PUHSD superintendent, in a Sept. 22 meeting.
School officials say it’s their opportunity to reimagine what school safety can be without resource officers.
Following student protests, the district announces earlier this week that it still will use off-duty law enforcement as needed for "community safety needs," but officers will be assigned to the district, not to individual schools as in the past.
Phoenix Union's school board first debated ending its contract with the city for officers in early June, as student calls for ending the contract escalated.
"We are putting real money into the hands of real people, our people, and giving them power," said Chad Gestson, district superintendent.
“For many years people believed that school safety was just physical safety. What we know today is that safety and health and wellness on a campus is social and psychological safety," Gestson said.
Students, parents and school staff will have a say in the participatory budget for the district. A panel during Tuesday’s town Hall covered a variety of topics including an emphasis on mental health and how that could impact the need for security.
The district, in its release also cited possible campus closures and more remote learning in the next school year due to the pandemic, as a reason for why officers aren't needed on campus.
"It is very likely that we will spend weeks, if not months, in full distance or remote learning in the next school year," Gestson said in a video accompanying the release.
Sources: Fox 10 Phoenix, The Arizona Republic