CHICAGO - As Chicago Public Schools decide whether to keep police in their buildings, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is making changes to the city's School Resource Officer program.
After protests and lots of debate about having police in Chicago Public Schools, CPS and the mayor announced Wednesday several proposed reforms from eligibility to complaints.
Local school councils at 55 schools decided to keep police in their buildings this coming school year.
“It’s important that the local schools councils have the pulse of their communities, have the definitive say in whether or not SRO’s are at their schools,” Lightfoot said.
However, 17 schools have opted to leave the program.
“We simply decided that our vision for the future of Clemente did not include the police in our school as part of our approach to student safety,” said Fernando Mojica, principal of Roberto Clemente Community Academy.
Proposed reforms for the School Resource Officer program include new selection criteria, such as those eligible must have an excellent discipline record.
The changes also include streamlining the complaint process, strengthening training requirements, and prohibiting SRO’s from entering information into CPD’s Criminal Enterprise Information System.
“Now, principals will have the ability to directly participate and conduct all interviews and reject or request candidates for consideration,” Lightfoot said.
CPS says in fiscal year 2020, $33-million was budgeted for SRO support. Now, the district plans to spend about $12 million.
“Every student deserves to come into a safe and welcoming environment where they feel valued and free,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson.
One group pushing to get police out of CPS schools released a statement saying that the mayor is investing in policing instead of investing in the mental health of youth.
Meanwhile, the district also announced new partnerships with various groups to help create what it calls a "holistic approach" to school safety.