Full Script for Video
Overview of Proposed Model for School Safety in Charlottesville City Schools (March 2021)
- In June 2020, Charlottesville’s School Board and Police Department agreed that we need a new model for school safety, one that does not place School Resource Officers, or SROs, in our schools. This decision supports our equity work and reflects current trends in school safety.
- Safety remains our top priority, and there are many models for safety. Data does not indicate that having an SRO on site leads to better outcomes for either day-to-day events or emergencies.
What data does show is effective are many areas that Charlottesville has already committed to, such as:
- Mental wellness
- Intentional community-building and strong relationships
- Common-sense building upgrades
- Threat assessment teams and de-escalation skills to evaluate and manage situations as they arise
- Restorative practices to restore good relationships, teach interpersonal skills, and minimize engagement with court systems
The Safety Plan for Charlottesville Schools
- In the fall, the Superintendent convened a committee of staff, students, family members and community members, many with relevant expertise. They were asked to research and recommend a new safety model.
- As the committee worked, one model rose to the top. In Toronto, Canada, they removed school resource officers in 2017 and found success using school-hired safety monitors. In many cases, these safety monitors were already working in the schools or the community. These safety monitors are “more mentor than muscle.” They keep an eye on the facilities to make sure that doors are secured, and they walk the halls of the schools to offer a helpful hand as needed. They are trained in de-escalation, mental health, and safety procedures. In Charlottesville, the training of the safety monitors would be directed by the division, and they’d report to the building principals at Buford, CHS, and Lugo-McGinness Academy.
- In addition to safety monitors, this model also increases focus on mental wellness and student supports. Due to a recent grant and the planned budget for 21-22, Charlottesville City Schools will add mental health or social work professionals on every level.
- Following a revised memorandum of understanding, police will still come to schools when needed. We’ll also continue to partner with community organizations in Charlottesville because we work better together. We’ll keep upgrading facilities with a focus on door access control. Again, the foundation is positive school culture and building relationships. We’ll train staff in key areas such as restorative practices. And we’ll teach the social-emotional skills our students need to self-regulate and help support their peers. Everyone has a role to maintain a positive school atmosphere.
So the big ideas are —
- Strengthening our community and relationships
- Growing our mental health supports
- Raising up community mentors to be an extra set of hands in the hallways
- Partnering with the community, including clearly defined situations when police will still come to schools to promote safety
Superintendent Committee on School Safety/Security Resources
In the fall of 2020, then-superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins appointed a number of superintendent committees to provide recommendations in three areas (COVID-19, school names, and school safety). The committee for school safety/security resources was prompted in part by the schools and the Charlottesville Police Department jointly ending our 2016 Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers (SRO’s). The committee’s goal was to recommend the best path forward.
Thanks to our community members and all those who shared your feedback. You can still find the committee’s materials on this page.
The final recommendation was to establish a team of care and safety assistants (CSAs) with deep relationships in the community to be an extra set of hands in the hallways and oversee safety practices. The CSAs are trained in areas such as de-escalation, teen mental health first aide, safety procedures, and more. The plan also places more mental health professionals in our schools. And finally, the plan relies on community partnership, including situations when police will still come to schools to promote safety. Find our CCS/Charlottesville Police Department Protocols – MOU (2021).
Recent Updates on New Safety Model
- May 5, 2022