NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Republicans are confused after Metro Nashville Public Schools and Metro Nashville Police Dept. declined to apply for over an additional $5 million to fund a school resource officer (SRO) in every elementary school.
“I would encourage them to make haste as far as school is going to start here in a few weeks and all our children are protected,” Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) said.
MNPD said it simply doesn’t have the staffing for the grant.
“This grant funding would be for full-time SROs,” Chief John Drake said. “We can’t ask for grant funding when we don’t have full-time staff.”
When asked about the issue, the school system said the staffing issue is real. Their problem is law enforcement has to actually fill each SRO position to receive the grant money in the form of reimbursement, as opposed to receiving the money beforehand to then fill new positions.
In a statement, a representative wrote, in part, “We will work to continue exploring an effective elementary SRO model with the police department as they work to expand the number of officers on the force.”
White, who chairs up the House Education Committee, said the school system tells him they’re for SROs in every school but are prioritizing middle and high schools.
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Still, other Republican leadership pointed out no other school system has flagged that same staffing issue, a notion White said he understood.
“Let’s get the bureaucracy out of the way, let’s get politics out of the way,” he said. “Let’s have law enforcement in every school to make sure our children are protected.”
You can read Metro Nashville Public Schools’ full statement below:
The plans developed and announced by Dr. Battle and Chief Drake for the upcoming school year represent enhanced safety and security measures that build upon the enhancements announced at the start of the last school year in response to Uvalde. The plan includes police presence at all MNPS schools through the SRO program or community police officers, which serves to provide visibility and protection to mitigate a potential attack against the school. This is in addition to MNPS roles focused on safety, as well as enhancements to the building security features. We appreciate that this year, the MNPD has proposed a significant increase in the number of actual School Resource Officers on staff to fill long-term vacancies in that department. We will work to continue exploring an effective elementary SRO model with the police department as they work to expand the number of officers on the force, which will allow for further SRO assignments in the future without detracting from community policing needs.