Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael Martirano and Howard County Board of Education Chair Mavis Ellis released the following joint statement regarding Howard County Police Department School Resource Officers (SROs):
“The well-being and safety of our students, staff and school community is our number one priority and any decision will be made with that priority in mind. Earlier this summer, following a national discussion on the role of police officers in public schools, there were calls to remove Howard County Police Department (SROs) from the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). In response, we began planning a comprehensive community dialogue to examine our SRO program.
“Howard County Government and HCPSS will hold focus groups in October for students, families, school staff, and community stakeholders – followed by a public town hall in November. These will be preceded by a report due to the Board of Education on Sept. 24 entitled “School Resource Officers in Schools” and will provide a basis for these discussions.
“During the Sept. 10, 2020 Board of Education meeting, it was noted by the Superintendent that our current environment where students are learning virtually provides an opportunity for us to evaluate and discuss the ways we maintain a safe physical learning environment while tending to the welfare of each of our students. We must also fully understand the experiences and needs of each of our stakeholders as we consider this very important issue.
“Since the Board of Education voted not to remove School Resources Officers from HCPSS schools last week, we have witnessed impassioned dialogue from all perspectives throughout our community. As we work together as a united county on this issue, we will remind our residents to practice civility and help us facilitate this process to listen to the thoughts of all stakeholders involved.
“Together, through the lens of both safety and equity, we will find the right balance to maintain our county’s excellent reputation for diversity, inclusion, and academic success. We look forward to this public engagement process and making a final decision once we’ve completed this due diligence.”