TVDSB report calls for pause on officers in schools
A new report from the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) recommends putting the Student Resource Officer (SRO) program on hold.
The program came under scrutiny following Black Lives Matter protests in London in 2020, after which a review was recommended. The board also conducted an online community survey earlier this year.
TVDSB Education Director Mark Fisher is apologizing to students -- particularly Indigenous, Black and Youths of Colour -- who have felt harmed or traumatized by the presence of police officers.
“Our top priority is to create learning environments where students feel supported and safe,” Fisher said in a statement. “I want to apologize to any student who feels we have failed to fulfill our duty to them.”
The board says their review has found a negative impact for some students, making it difficult for them to be in school.
Al Day, executive director at the N’Amerind Friendship Centre, and a member of the SRO Review Leadership Team, said a pause makes sense.
“Many of our young people have been mistreated. We heard this in the feedback. That their trauma is real. I support the pause in the SRO program and the work of creating together, led by the voices of Indigenous, Black and Youth of Colour, a new, better way of having youth and police interact.”
Fisher said it is clear changes must be made and, "the report recommends community members and police continue to work together with us to determine whether the concerns raised can be rectified."
London Police Service Chief Steve Williams added, “We need to listen to the voices of those who have been negatively impacted by police, particularly young people from BIPOC communities. We believe that by working together, we can create better ways to serve our school communities which is vital for improved relationships moving forward.”
The findings will be presented to school trustees on Tuesday along with the recommendation to pause the program for at least one year for further study.