DeKalb’s Human Relations Commission (HRC) meets tomorrow night and the agenda includes a discussion of the role of school resource officers (SROs). Superintendent Minerva Garcia-Sanchez and District 428 security staff are expected to attend.
During its last meeting, HRC members expressed concern about the ticketing of children for local ordinance violations in Illinois schools, so we can reasonably expect it to be a focus of the discussion.
Perhaps we’ll hear that the rate of citations issued to students in the schools has slowed in response to state-level disapproval following publication of the original investigative report, including the governor‘s and state superintendent’s condemnation of the practice.
It would be a mistake to assume ticketing has stopped, however. Despite the likelihood that Illinois legislators will at some point close the state loophole that allows it, the latest SRO agreement between District 428 and City of DeKalb explicitly permits SROs to write citations at their discretion.
Still, in what might we might see as a nod to impending legislation, the SRO agreement does seems to limit consequences of a citation to community service “in a program that is permitted, operated or supervised by the District.”
The community service provision does sound like an improvement, but what does it really mean? I don’t see a deadline in the agreement for putting together such a program. Is it functional now? Has District 428 set up a program, or do students still go to City Hall on school days for prosecution? Are the 18-and-overs eligible for community service? Are students who don’t complete community service still subject to fines?
As you can see, there are still plenty of questions we might ask to ascertain the value of this vague provision to discipline, education, and families.