HD31 - Study of School Security Officers
In Spring 2001, the Virginia State Crime Commission began a study of school security officers and school safety specialists. Crime Commission staff interviewed staff from school divisions with security officers, staff from the Department of Criminal Justice Services and national experts in the field of school safety. In addition, survey instruments were developed by a workgroup of state and local school safety experts. The surveys were disseminated to each local school division safety coordinator and to each middle and high school principal concerning the activities, authority and location of school security officers and school safety specialists. As a result of the study effort, the following recommendations were made to improve safety, clarify roles and set criteria for implementing a safety network in Virginia's secondary schools.
Codify the definitions of School Resource Officers (SROs) and School Security Officers (SSOs).
School Resource Officer - a certified law-enforcement officer hired by the local law-enforcement agency to provide law-enforcement and security services to Virginia public secondary schools.
School Security Officer - an individual who is employed by the local school board for the singular purpose of maintaining order and discipline, preventing crime, investigating violations of school board policies and detaining persons violating the law or school board policies on school property or at school sponsored events and who is responsible solely for ensuring the safety, security and welfare of all students, faculty and staff in the assigned school.
Amend the Code of Virginia to clarify that school security officers cannot be appointed Conservators of the Peace for purposes of maintaining security in Virginia public schools as an employee of a local school division.
Effective July 1, 2002, no person employed by a local school board as a school security officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, shall be eligible for appointment as a special police officer for purposes of maintaining safety in a public school in the Commonwealth.
Effective July 1, 2002, no person employed by a local school board as a school security officer, as defined in § 9. 1-101, shall be eligible for appointment as a conservator for purposes of maintaining safety in a public school in the Commonwealth.
Amend § 9.1-102 of the Code of Virginia to direct the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), in consultation with the Department of Education (DOE) and the Virginia State Crime Commission, to:
• develop minimum job entry and in-service employment standards for school security officers (i.e. education, background checks, drug/alcohol screenings);
• develop minimum training standards for school security officers (i.e. laws, conflict resolution, dynamics of student behavior); and,
• determine the requirements, and provide for, the certification of school security officers by the Center for School Safety.
Training standards shall include, but not limited to:
• the role and responsibilities of school security officers;
• relevant state and federals laws;
• school and personal liability issues;
• security awareness in a school environment;
• mediation and conflict resolution;
• disaster and emergency response; and,
• student behavioral dynamics.
DCJS shall establish an advisory committee consisting of local school board representatives, division superintendents, secondary principals and school security personnel to assist in the development of the standards and certification requirements.
All current and new school security officers will need to meet the training and certification requirements by September 15, 2003.
Support annual funding of $250,500 to DCJS to provide for the provision of ten annual 40 hour minimum training sessions for school security officers. The training sessions shall be administered regionally throughout the year.
Support a one-time funding allocation of $15,480 to DCJS for the development of a training curriculum and certification requirements for school security officers.
Support annual funding of 2 FTEs and $350,000 to achieve full funding for the DCJS Center for School Safety to:
(1) analyze school safety audits;
(2) provide technical assistance on safety audit problems;
(3) conduct new and updated training for school security officers and school resource officers;
(4) develop employment standards, training standards and certification requirements for school security officers; and,
(5) provide for certification of school security officers.
Support funding, over a four-year phase-in, allocating one state funded School Resource Officer (SRO) in every middle and high school in Virginia to provide for the law enforcement and arrest powers necessary to ensure safe schools. Full funding will require $27.59 million annually by FY 2006.