Highlights of the 11/3 Safe and Successful Kids Interlocal Meeting

The Safe and Successful Kids (SSK) Interlocal Board, composed of members from both the Lincoln Board of Education and the City of Lincoln, held their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center. The purpose of the meeting was to review the School Resource Officer Program, School Perception and Discipline Data Reports. 

This is the third year of gathering data based on the goals and expectations established by the 2018 Memorandum of Understanding for the SSK Interlocal Board. Even though considerable data has been collected and analyzed, the ability to base recommendations for action on this data is limited for two reasons:

Historical data was based on practices prior to the implementation of the original Memorandum of Understanding in 2018.

The last two years of data do not accurately reflect regular and full attendance or population at schools due to pandemic protocols and procedures implemented in middle and high schools during the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 school years.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • From the 2015-16 school year to the 2018-19 school year, Lincoln Police responded to an average of 1,310 Calls For Service each school year at LPS middle and high schools. During the 2021-22 school year, that dropped to 1,293 Calls For Service. Calls for Service could include any reason police are contacted and there is a need for an official report or documentation for a possible criminal act. For example, it could be something as simple as missing items, or it could be for more serious incidents where there may be a law violation.
  • A referral is when the School Resource Officer believes the juvenile is responsible for a criminal act and they are referred to the county attorney. During the 2021-22 school year, 15.8% of the Calls For Service resulted in a referral. That is down compared to the four-year average of 30.8%. 
  • The average of SRO initiated Calls For Service that resulted in a referral between 2015-16 to 2018-19 was 4.2%. During the 2021-22 school year that number dropped to 2.9%.
  • During the 2021-22 school year, 83% of the incidents that resulted in a referral involved simple assaults, narcotics, disturbances, vandalism, traffic violations, trespassing or larceny. Staff initiated the largest percentage of Calls for Services in these instances followed by students. 
  • As in prior years, African American and Native American students were overrepresented among both victims and suspects/persons responsible during the 2021-22 school year. In general, the disparity ratios did not vary substantially among demographic groups during 2021-22 compared to the prior four-year average.
  • With 22,000 middle and high school students attending LPS during the 2021-22 school year, there were 1,293 Calls For Service with 205 referrals. Of the 205 referrals, only two resulted in a student being lodged at the Youth Detention Center. Students generally are released to their families after a referral from the Call For Service is complete. 
  • Concerns existed before SROs returned to middle schools in 2019, that their presence in schools may increase the number of referrals. Since the reintroduction of SROs to middle school, the number of referrals given to middle school students remains below the four-year average.
  • In looking at LPS school discipline data, additional data is needed to determine trends and anomalies. Currently overall trends of the out of school suspension data remain relatively consistent and continue to show evidence of disproportionality for students of color and those participating in special programs like special education, English Language Learners and free and reduced lunch. However, the rate of out of school suspensions for high school students receiving special education services and students participating in the free and reduced lunch program appears to be more disproportionate than previous years. 
  • An increase in the number of suspensions may be related to students being removed from the normal routine of school for an extended time. This absence may have created behavior issues that resulted in more suspensions. Overall mental health concerns brought on by the pandemic may have also compounded this issue.

Staff provided two areas of recommendation supported by feedback from stakeholders, the data collected and best practices:

  • LPS and Lincoln Police should continue professional development to reinforce the separation of law enforcement and student discipline, and it should focus on professional development such as restorative practices and trauma-informed approaches that decrease the need for referral of students to Lincoln Police. Following some of the restrictions of the pandemic, having students participate in some of the staff/SRO training to provide their perspective may be especially valuable.
  • Lincoln Police and LPS must continue to work together and with other agencies on existing restorative and trauma informed practices and programs such as RESTORE, as these have demonstrated their effectiveness in reducing disparity. It would be redundant to try and carve out separate new initiatives for the Safe and Successful Kids Interlocal with the initiation of the LPS All Mean All Action Plan. It is recommended that Lincoln Police and LPS administrators coordinate with the work of the All Mean All Action Plan to address disparity concerns expressed in this report. It is noted that goals 4 and 5 of the All Means All Action Plan are directly tied to this work.

The full 163-page report can be found here.


Published: November 3, 2022, Updated: November 3, 2022