November 19, 2021
Superintendent Hiu's Message on the GBSD School Resource Officer Program
Dear Gresham HS and Sam Barlow HS Families and Staff,
The question of whether school resource officers should be in schools, and if so, what those programs should look like, is being discussed in communities across the country. There are differing opinions on this matter and it is a complex issue. For the last several weeks this has been a topic of discussion for our community and the District has heard from some students and staff who have expressed their concerns about the program.
As a school district, we need to take into consideration our students’ lived experiences. We have also heard feedback that the school resource officer program is critically important. In 2020 we held a district-wide Thoughtexchange discussion that showed overwhelming support for the program.
In addition, School Resource Officer Programs:
- Reduce the need for schools to call 9-1-1 during an emergency
- Our school resource officers are a resource for the entire school community
- School Resource Officer Programs ensure there’s a partnership with the school district in an emergency and prevent or minimize property damage on school campuses
For the Gresham-Barlow School District, the School Resource Officer Program is an essential part of our school safety equation.
Therefore, I have developed a three-part plan for coming together as a community and ensuring our schools are safe and inclusive environments where students feel welcome and supported.
GBSD Plan for Reimagining the School Resource Officer Program
- An independent, third-party consultant will hold focus groups to evaluate and improve the District’s School Resource Officer Program.
- The District will partner with Face-to-Face PDX to explore engaging students in our comprehensive high schools in a program designed to build trust between police and communities.
- District leadership will partner with the Gresham Police Department to carefully review and make adjustments to the agreement which governs the District’s School Resource Officer Program.
In addition to sharing the District’s plan for reimagining our School Resource Officer Program, I also announced that the Gresham High School resource officer will be reassigned to district-level responsibilities. This officer will support district-level responsibilities, which include emergency response management and training staff in using our new safety and security systems funded by the 2016 school bond. The school resource officer at Barlow High School will remain assigned to the school. These decisions have been made in consultation and collaboration with the District Leadership Team, high school principals, and the Gresham Police Chief.
Watch for future updates as we move forward. By working together, we will continue to maintain a safe school environment.
Superintendent of Schools