CPS, Partner Groups Enhance Whole School Safety Planning

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

After a year in which a number of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) implemented alternative school-safety plans, which removed one or both of their school resource officers (SROs) the CPS Board of Education will consider an improved process for schools that still have SROs to craft their school-safety plans. Responding to a student movement to create holistic approaches to safety in CPS, a partnership between CPS and five community organizations created a process to allow each school with school resource officers to decide whether or not to continue the SRO program. Through this work, 64 percent of schools voted to reduce or eliminate their SRO programs, yielding more than $3 million in funds that could be re-allocated to pay for staff and program-related alternative school safety plans. To refine this process for the next school year, the partners organized nine community meetings to gather feedback, engaging 254 people, followed by the distribution of the survey earlier this year, to which more than 3,000 students, parents, community members and school-based staff members responded. Based on the extensive community feedback, recommendations to improve the Whole School Safety process include:

Increase transparency, awareness, and accountability

• Share information and timely updates about Whole School Safety (e.g. school resource officer decisions, safety plans and budgets, implementation progress, outcomes, best practices) in a centralized location and accessible way

Improve collaboration

• Involve students and community in Whole School Safety decision-making and implementation processes;

Reflect continuously

• Expand conversations about Whole School Safety beyond schools involved in the School Resource Officer program and potentially including middle and elementary schools to promote conversations around a shifting district-wide vision on school safety;

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