Community members weigh in on JCPS’ proposed security plan

The community’s biggest area of concern was the impact SSOs and SAs would have on students.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 11:52 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A new security plan introduced by Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio addressed a years-long debate into school safety and security.

The proposal was first introduced in Tuesday’s JCPS board meeting. The plan would divide the responsibilities of the traditional School Resource Officer (SRO) between Safety Administrators (SA) and School Safety Officers (SSO).

Safety Administrators would assume the roles of relationship builders in the proposal. One SA would be assigned to each middle and high school in the district.

School Safety Officers would be armed, sworn law enforcement officers who would not be stationed inside schools, but would instead patrol a group of three to seven schools within a specific geographical zone of the city.

On Wednesday, the community had the opportunity to give feedback on the plan this evening. JCPS set up a text line and a submission form for people to weigh in with questions and comments.

By the time Dr. Pollio and his staff went through the plan, people in cue on the virtual town hall were champing at the bit to get their answers.

The community’s biggest area of concern was the impact SSOs and SAs would have on students.

”What I also know is you can’t train away bad behavior,” Marian Vassar, 15th District PTA member said. “I was wondering if there are any plans to put in place an accountability review board to involve students and parents as well.”

Some parents scrutinized Pollio’s plan during Wednesday’s town hall meeting.

Matt Anderson with JCPS’ Culture and Climate Department assured there is going to be a vetting process for whomever applies for either one of the two security positions.

”We do continue to have the right people in the right place to continue to serve our students and make sure we’re safe,” Anderson said.

While SSOs are to be armed and will be assessed before getting the job, Safety Administrators won’t be armed.

However, Pollio assured SAs will have a vast background to make sure they know how to communicate and be a confidant to students.

”Background check and look at recommendations, talk to references to make sure these are people doing it for the right reasons and care about kids,” Pollio said.

One of the reasons behind the need for law enforcement need is guns found on campus. More than a dozen guns have been found on JCPS campuses this school year.

It’s one of the reasons why JCPS parent Steve Ullum took his 5th grade daughter out of the school district.

“I care more about those kids in the vicinity of the gun than the kids worried that there’s a cop in the building, I’ll take the trade off if it saves lives,” Ullum said.

The biggest questions now is if JCPS will be able to hire and fill the positions for the SSOs and SAs.

The plan is expected to be ironed out before it is voted on by the Board of Education at the end of January.

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