Parents initially raised concerns at the April 23 school board meeting about the district’s plan to hire the police officer, known as a School Resource Officer or SRO, through an interlocal agreement with the City of Edmonds for the 2019-20 school year. A group of parents also shared their opinions during an April 25 meeting with Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Greg Schwab.
Schwab confirmed Monday that he notified Edmonds Police Chief Al Compton “and let him know that we are planning to slow the process down to gather feedback from all of the different members of both EH and SLHS communities.”
Under the interlocal agreement, the school district would pick up half the cost of the SRO — in this case $54,000 — funded through the district’s safety and security budget. The other half would be covered by the City of Edmonds.
Schwab said district officials still plan to propose to the school board that an SRO be implemented on the Woodway campus shared by both schools, “but realize that we need more time to give everyone a chance to ask questions and share concerns.”
While a timeline hasn’t yet been developed, “I would say that we won’t be ready to implement (the SRO) this fall,” Schwab added.
“We recognize that this is an important decision that we want to get right,” Schwab said. “In the meantime, we will be working with EH and SLHS administration to ensure that the security of the campus remains a high priority.”
Next steps are for district officials to work with the school communities to create a timeline and surveys to capture opinions at both schools.
Several parents present at the April 25 meeting said they were concerned about the trauma that some children — and even some adults — will experience when seeing a gun in a school setting. That possibility is especially worrisome for parents with students who already suffer from anxiety. There were also questions about whether SROs would treat students of color fairly, given the level of disproportionate discipline that is already occurring for students of color in the district.
In addition, parents stated concerns about giving a police officer access to the students’ private data. Since the SROs are considered part of the school faculty — and some even teach criminal justice classes — they are able to log in to each school’s Skyward account, which includes individual student records.
Scriber Lake and Edmonds Heights are co-located at the former Woodway High School, which is located off 100th Avenue West in Edmonds. Both are alternative schools and both enroll students from across the Edmonds School District. Edmonds Heights is an alternative parent-partnership school that serves elementary- through high school-age students. Scriber Lake is a grade 9-12 high school that has many at-risk and special-needs students.
The Woodway Campus, comprising both Edmonds Heights and Scriber Lake schools — had 135 calls to 911 for police matters in 2017-18. So far in this school year, there have been 90 police calls, Schwab said.
— By Teresa Wippel