New school security plan unveiled for Wake County Public School System

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
New school security plan unveiled for Wake schools
A new approach to school discipline in Wake County was unveiled in Cary Tuesday, but will it work?

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County schools leaders are considering a new way to discipline students. They unveiled new guidelines at a meeting Tuesday.

The change is in response to a federal investigation into how police officers who work at Wake County schools handle minorities and children with disabilities who misbehave.

A lot of activists for student rights showed up at the school board meeting. Some of them had their own personal struggles with school resource officers.

There was fervent feedback from adults and teens who believe too much power is given to the school resource officers. They represented the student advocate group NC Heat.

"It's a good start, but they've got a long way to go," said Selina Garcia, with NC Heat.

New guidelines were outlined in a memorandum of understanding requiring school resource officers to report -- by race and school -- when, how many, and which students they refer to the criminal justice system. It would also add more accountability and diversity training.

If it was approved, would it help?

"Honestly, no," said Garcia. "I feel you can say something to somebody all day, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to pay attention."

Perhaps it could have helped Garcia, who graduated just last week. Her graduation was in jeopardy back in March after the southeast Raleigh student spent several weeks in jail following a school bus fight.

"Administration in the schools is not helping at all," said concerned parent Tamara Young. "Everything is just underneath the table."

School and law enforcement leaders came up with new rules following a federal complaint stemming from an incident last May when police arrested seven Enloe High School students after a water balloon fight.

The complaint accused school resource officers of targeting minority students.

Legal Aid of North Carolina is blasting the new rules -- saying they were thrown together and need more public input.

"We've worked very hard to incorporate community concerns we've heard as well as move forward with this agreement with our law enforcement agencies," said Wake County School Board Chairwoman Christine Kushner.

The rules are part of a five-year renewed agreement between law enforcement and Wake County Schools.

The school board will vote on the guidelines in two weeks. If passed, the guidelines would take effect at the end of the month.

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