Highlights of the 11/2 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. 2, at the City/County Building. The purpose of the meeting was to review the School Resource Officer (SRO) Program, School Perception and Discipline Data Reports.
Lincoln Public Schools and the City of Lincoln share the goal of promoting school safety which is an essential element of a positive and safe school climate. Building that environment includes building positive relationships with students and families, providing proactive instruction for positive behaviors, offering a wide-range of student supports, focusing on de-escalating conflicts and negative behaviors, engaging and assigning developmentally appropriate and fair processes and consequences and utilizing those consequences and supports to address the root causes of misbehavior.
This is the fourth year of gathering data based on the goals and expectations established by the 2018 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the SSK Interlocal Board. The MOU had six goals:
- Create a common understanding that school administrators and teachers are ultimately responsible for school discipline and culture, and SROs should not be involved in the enforcement of school rules.
- Minimize student discipline issues so they do not become school-based referrals to the juvenile justice system.
- Promote effectiveness and accountability.
- Provide training as available to SROs and appropriate LPS staff on effective strategies to work with students that align with program goals.
- Employ best practices so that all students are treated impartially and without bias by SROs and LPS staff in alignment with applicable City and LPS equity policies.
- Utilize best practices for training and oversight with the goal of reducing disproportionality.
“Part of the SRO program review has included a comparison of calls for service resulting in referrals to juvenile court comparing years before and after the reintroduction of SROs into middle school as part of the Safe and Successful Kids Interlocal Agreement,” said LPS Associate Superintendent for Civic Engagement John Neal. “It is a measure that provides insight into whether the addition of SROs increased student involvement in the juvenile justice system.”
Neal added that while the pandemic has probably impacted the overall numbers in ways that are difficult to measure, the number of referrals for middle school was below the four-year average number of referrals that occurred prior to the introduction of SROs. Over the same period of time, high school referrals to the juvenile justice system have also dropped.
Key takeaways from the report include:
- In 2022-2023, SROs received an average of approximately 48 hours of training that included a variety of topics related to mental health, ethics, diversity and crisis intervention, among others.
- In 2022-2023, assaults, narcotics, disturbances, larcenies, trespassing and vandalism made up 83% of calls for service that resulted in a referral. This is a reduction in referrals for these incident types compared to the four-year average, and an increase in referrals for these incident types compared to 2021-2022 (except for vandalism).
- In 2022-2023, the overall calls for service increased 10% from the four-year average, however, calls for service that resulted in a referral have decreased by 34%.
- In 2022-23, middle school calls for service resulting in referrals are down one percent, and high school calls for service resulting in referrals are down 42%.
- Overall calls for service resulting in a referral are down 34% from the four-year average.
- In 2022-2023, LPS staff initiated 74% of assault calls for service that resulted in a referral.
- In the annual perception survey, students who indicated that they were aware of their SRO reported that they feel safer with the SRO on campus. Overall, 90% of students reported feeling at least somewhat safer with an SRO on campus. This response ranged from 84-92% across demographic groups.
- Overall, suspension and expulsion statistics in 2022-2023 were similar to 2021-2022, and rates of suspensions or expulsions were generally proportional across demographic groups (although there is continuing evidence of disproportionality for students who identify as Black, Hispanic, or two or more races). There was some improvement in decreasing suspension rates for students receiving special education services or in the free/reduced lunch program.
Staff the following recommendations supported by feedback from stakeholders, the data collected and best practices:
- LPS and LPD should continue professional development to reinforce the separation of law enforcement and student discipline. This should include training in restorative practices and trauma-informed approaches that decrease the need for referral of students to SROs.
- LPS and LPD are going to take a deeper look at the number of referrals for assault. Even though the number has dropped dramatically, mostly in high school, it is still the area most often cited for referrals of middle and high school students to the juvenile justice system. The goal is to better understand and respond to disparity to then identify methods and strategies that may decrease disparity, and implement professional development to put those methods and strategies in place.
- The SRO annual program review process should continue to monitor data from the perception survey.
- LPS and LPD should adjust the data collection process to more accurately record when administrators are involved in the referral to SROs to better measure the goal of utilizing the professional development provided administrators in determining which student issues were better addressed as school discipline and which student issues were best addressed with a referral to the SRO.
Published: November 2, 2023, Updated: November 2, 2023