School resource officers at two Metro schools say they are being verbally abused by the students. The officers will be moved out of those schools beginning next month.
One officer from Bass Learning Center and two from Johnson Alternative will be deployed to other schools, according to Metro police spokesman Don Aaron. However, the officers will continue to make daily visits throughout the school year.
“Frankly, our officers at the alternative schools have reported having been verbally abused by students and not just in an isolated fashion,” Aaron told News 2. “We’re not going to totally abandon those campuses. Through the rest of the school year, Metro officers will be making visits to those schools every day to have a police presence.”
Next school year, Metro officers will not be stationed at either school.
Johnson and Bass are for students who have struggled in mainstream academic settings at other middle and high schools and would otherwise be expelled.
There are 70 school resource officers stationed at Metro’s various middle and high schools for educational and mentoring purposes. They can also respond to crimes committed on campus. Aaron says those SROs are having success.
“Police officers in schools are not there to be security guards,” said Aaron. “The officers are there to befriend the kids, to get to know these young people and let the young people know that the police officers are there to help them. The officers want to enjoy their work and go to work to make a difference. Are these officers making a difference in alternative schools? They would think not.”
Metro police have responded to Bass Learning Center 85 times so far this school year. There are currently 83 students enrolled.
At Johnson, police have responded approximately 100 times and there are about 143 students enrolled.
By comparison, police have responded to Antioch High School approximately 200 times so far this school year where there are over 2,000 students enrolled.
All School Rescource Officers are employees of the Metro Nashville Police Department.
School board member Christiane Buggs represents Johnson Alternative. She didn’t know the SROs were being pulled until we told her.
“It’s troubling that these students may not have these resources next year but I can’t fault the police officers,” said Buggs. “If police are really doing this because they haven’t had a positive interaction with the students and they want to see that come to fruition, what do I as an elected official? How can I step in and support both sets of people.”
Metro schools released a statement about the decision Tuesday:
We understand the position of MNPD, and we remain committed to continuing conversations and maintaining a positive working relationship. We believe their presence is valuable in our schools and that their officers have a lot to share which positively impacts our students and the community as a whole.
Metro Schools Superintendent Dr. Shawn Joseph also sent an email to school board members after News 2 called a few to ask questions.