FRAMINGHAM – Framingham Police Chief Lester Baker is not in favor of eliminating the school resource officers in schools in the City of Framingha.
Since becoming chief in 2020, Baker has met with the Black Student Union at Framingham High, and other groups who have been advocating for the removal of the school resources officers.
Framingham Police & Framingham Public Schools has reduced the officers at the Framingham High by 50%. There used to be two police officers at Framingham High, but now there is just one officer.
There is a school resource officer at Keefe Technical High School in Framingham and a third school resource officer assigned to K-8 schools in the City.
“I met with the Black Student Union and other groups and I have told them I agree on some points and disagree on others,” said Chief Lester Baker.
“I know they don’t want the SROs (school resource officers). I know they don’t want the SROs involved with school discipline issues,” said Chief Baker. “But we police everybody, and not everybody wants the school resource officers out of the schools.”
“Some people want us in the schools and some people don’t want us in the schools,” said Chief Baker.
But I do agree that the “police officers in the schools should not be involved in school discipline, and I have told them that,” said Chief Baker on Friday afternoon.
The Chief said with the new legislation on police reform passed at the State House, and signed into law by the Gov. Baker on Dec 31, 2020, school resource officers will need to have “mandatory training,” before they can serve in the schools.
An Act Relative to Justice, Equity and Accountability in Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth created the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST).
POST will be decided the training and standards for all school resource officers (SRO) in the Commonwealth.
Under the new law, school superintendents need to request a police chief to appoint a school resource officer.
Once that request is made, the school district and the local police departments will enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize and clarify the partnership between the school and the school resource officer (SRO).
All MOUs would then be filed with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
“We are awaiting guidance on the new MOUs,” said Baker about school resources officers for the 2021-22 school year.
“POST has yet to decide what training needs to be completed to be a SRO. I would think they would want that done by the start of the school year,” said Chief Baker.
The new law also prohibits school department personnel and SROs from disclosing student record information to law enforcement officials, except in specific cases where the student, parent or guardian has provided informed written consent.
Student record information could also be shared under a subpoena or court order.
A third way student record information could be shared is if a health or safety emergency as defined by DESE, takes place.