The School Safety Interim Study Committee met on August 29, 2013. The meeting minutes are available here. A few key points of note:
In Marion County, a pilot project has placed 23 probation officers in schools, and this number will be expanded due to the success of the pilot. The result was a drop in arrests and a 53% decrease in expulsions. The pilot program included mentoring programs, counseling, and family-based programs, as well as the Marion County Teen Court.
Dr. Russell Skiba, Professor of Counseling and Education at Indiana University and Director of the Equity Project at the Indiana University Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, testified about the academic research concerning the effect of police officers in school. There is mixed evidence on the effectiveness of school resource officers (SRO’s) as part of a school safety plan. SRO’s have been found to be associated with increases in school-based arrests for non-safety related behaviors, increased suspensions, and lower attendance, especially for students of color. Some SRO programs have been effective, and have key common characteristics, including:
- Training in child and adolescent development and behavior
- Training in conflict management
- Focus on education and mentoring as well as law enforcement
- Clearly defining the role of the SRO
- Working collaboratively as part of the school team on comprehensive safety planning
Data collection is important to evaluate for unintended consequences of criminalization and increases in school arrests.