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JCPS superintendent introduces security plan to district’s school board

Dr. Marty Pollio's proposal would split safety and security responsibilities between Safety Administrators and School Safety Officers.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 12:05 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio introduced his plan to address safety and security in Jefferson County Public Schools.

The proposal, read aloud to the school board at Tuesday’s meeting, would divide the responsibilities of the traditional School Resource Officer (SRO) between Safety Administrators (SA) and School Safety Officers (SSO).

“We think this could be the most innovative approach that we’ve seen,” Pollio said. “For the better part of four-and-a-half years now, it’s been a very contentious issue and it continues to be a very contentious issue nationally.”

According to Pollio’s plan, School Administrators would assume the roles of relationship builders. One SA would be assigned to each middle and high school in the district.

They would not be armed.

The main task for the SAs would be to foster positive school culture by building relationships with students, a culture the traditional SRO was supposed to create.

SAs would report primarily to the school’s principal.

“And we want to highlight this,” Pollio said. “We think this is an innovative approach to serving schools. Their entire focus would be on safety-related issues.”

The School Safety Officers would be armed, sworn law enforcement officers who would respond to crimes and emergencies in schools. They would not be stationed in the schools, but instead would patrol a three to seven school cluster in a specific geographical zone of the city.

The SSOs would report primarily to the Security & Investigations department, but would also stay in contact with the SAs if a situation needed their attention.

“Our goal would be that the safety administrator and principal would have immediate contact with that SSO, such as a radio, that they can contact them immediately and that SSO could be there as quickly as they could possibly be there,” Pollio said.

Pollio told the board the district would have to hire roughly 10 SSOs and roughly 45 SAs to enact his plan. He said each employee would be mandated to complete 60 hours of annual training in 13 different criteria in order to perform the job.

Pollio said the plan would cost between $4 million and $5 million.

After his presentation, each board member was given time to express concerns and ask questions.

Pollio said he will take the feedback and incorporate it into his final plan, which he hopes to have the board vote on by the end of January.

The superintendent will be hosting a virtual town hall Wednesday to explain his proposal to the public. The town hall is scheduled for 6 p.m. live on the district’s YouTube channel.

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