The School Resource Officer (SRO) program at Des Moines Public Schools will be replaced by new supports for students at school. Tuesday night, the School Board signaled support for the plan.

“The proposal that has been presented to the School Board about a change in School Resource Officers and our agreement with the Des Moines Police Department reflects months of discussion and work by many in the district as well as the community at large,” said School Board chair Dwana Bardley. “It is reflective of input from our students, staff and families; it is responsive to the town halls we held last summer in the midst of a national debate on race and justice; and it is consistent with our work at being an anti-racist organization.”

Associate Superintendent Matthew Smith shared the news with staff in an email noting this appreciation for the collaborative effort developing the framework beginning in June of 2020.

“This means that we will move forward with our proposed separation from the DMPD and the SRO program and begin immediately executing on our replacement plan,” said Associate Superintendent Matthew Smith. “This is a multi-year plan that is a part of a larger integrated services strategy.”

The plan includes the addition of 20 new staff positions, 19 realignments of duties among existing staff, and 20 stipends for current staff adding new responsibilities at the district’s five high schools over the next two years.

The multi-level plan starts with community involvement and prevention. The first level focuses on increasing the input and decision making power of students, parents and community members, integrating community supports on and off-campus.

The second level focuses on restoring the community when any member of the community has committed wrongdoing. Restoration is a process, which takes time and committed community members to rebuild relationships, provide accountability, repair harm and ensure learning.

The third level focuses on diverting serious violations of the law away from convictions and placement within the juvenile and adult court systems. This level will take cooperation with Des Moines Police Department, DMPS, and community organizations to ensure a robust diversion process, agreeing to hold youth accountable for violations with dignity.

New staff hiring will begin this Spring and professional development will occur over the summer. The SRO replacement plan will be monitored for success, challenges and any adjustments that may be needed to grow the new, more progressive approach to school safety.

“I want to thank each of you for your leadership and commitment to make this a reality,” Smith said to staff. “What we do from here forward with this opportunity will be the difference.”

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