Student Resource Officers: Alternative Approaches to Student Safety and School Discipline

Widom, Rachel
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Biden School of Public Policy & Administration, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
School Resource Officers (SROs) have become more commonplace in recent years in response to school shootings and violence. SROs are law enforcement officials that are responsible for school safety and have the authority to make arrests. The current literature reports conflicting evidence as to whether SROs are effective at mitigating or preventing school shootings. However, research suggests that students with an SRO stationed on school premises are more likely to be arrested, contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately affects students with disabilities and students of color. Currently, gaps in the literature exist on providing effective, equitable, and feasible alternative approaches to SROs. This report aims to offer alternative solutions to SROs focused on promoting school safety and equitable school discipline practices. Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, public and political officials called for social reforms such as the removal of SROs from schools. One policy alternative to SROs includes the implementation of student safety coaches who are trained on mental health, restorative justice, and de-escalation strategies. This initiative has been implemented in school districts in Minnesota and has yielded positive evaluation results. Another alternative includes the reallocation of funds following the removal of SROs to mental health professionals. Mental health professionals have the authority to assess risks and are an effective mechanism at dealing with school safety and school disciplinary policies. Nonetheless, a hybrid model of both policy alternatives is the best mechanism to deal with school safety and student discipline. Student safety coaches should be implemented along with trained mental health professionals in public schools following the removal of SROs.
Student resource officers, School safety, School discipline, School-to-prison pipeline
Widom R (2022). Student Resource Officers: Alternative Approaches to Student Safety and School Discipline. Biden School J. Pub. Pol, 13, 19-27