School resource officers will remain in New Bedford public schools, Superintendent Thomas Anderson said at the New Bedford School Committee public meeting on Monday.
Anderson said he decided to keep the school district’s SRO program after a year-long assessment and review of the district’s disciplinary practices, which he said was conducted by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, a Boston-based nonprofit organization.
“Based on the extensive review conducted by the district and the Rennie Center, I concluded that at present, the NBPS will maintain the School Resource Officer program in several schools in the district,” said Anderson.
In a press release, the New Bedford School Department said Anderson made their announcement after nearly 14 months of review that included community input via virtual meetings for students, school department staff and the public last fall. The New Bedford chapter of the NAACP was a community organization that applied for funding for the ORS program, fearing the program would perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. The Rennie Center began its own study of district disciplinary practices earlier this year.
In his remarks Monday, Anderson said he wanted to allow time for a thorough process to give people in the community a chance to “exhaust” their thoughts.
“As I said before, this is a very sensitive topic for me in my role as superintendent and personally,” Anderson said. “The focus on bringing people together with different perspectives was essential in this review. Ongoing dialogue should always be a part of how we work to improve our schools and how we grow as a community in New Bedford and across our country. I look forward to New Bedford has a program that can be emulated by other districts.