Birmingham City Schools says there are no SRO at its middle schools, teachers express concern
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - WBRC received a call on August 25 from a concerned teacher about fighting happening at Jones Valley Middle School.
The teacher said there have been at least five fights already this year, but security is lacking and there’s no SRO.
This teacher did not feel comfortable talking to us on camera, so we spoke to the president of the local American Federation of Teachers, who confirmed there have been several fights at Jones Valley.
But a spokesperson for Birmingham City Schools says there are no SROs at any of the middle schools district wide.
Birmingham City Schools said it is aware that fights and confrontations among students happen in schools adding there are consequences for inappropriate behavior and support to ensure learning continues.
School Resource Officers are provided by the city for the district’s high schools, but not middle schools.
In response to questions about SROs at Jones Valley Middle School, the district released a statement saying in part, “Our BCS security team maintains a consistent presence in our schools and are available throughout the day to support school personnel.”
But Richard Franklin with the American Federation of Teachers, said some educators are uncomfortable with the level of security.
“It’s been a big concern. We do know that there needs to be a plan, not just with the school system, with the city of what do we do when we’re faced with those situations when they get out of control. Nobody should come to school, work and feel like they’re not going to be safe,” Franklin said.
Birmingham Police said it’s been their practice to assign officers only to the high schools and teach programs like D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. to middle school students.
These programs are designed to help students deal with peer pressure, conflict resolution, and other issues.
But the decision to place officers in schools is a local one.
“There are so many aspects that come into putting that school resource officer in that school. It’s hard to speak for another local community. However, I’m always an advocate for that specifically selected, properly trained SRO,” said President of The Alabama Association of School Resource Officers, or TAASRO, Sgt. Pam Revels.
“We want to make sure our students stay safe. That is the answer. But there are so many different ways we go about it,” Sgt. Revels said.
We reached out to few other school districts about how they’re managing SROs.
Hoover City, Jefferson County, and Shelby County Schools said their SROs cover all of their schools including middle and elementary.
AFT said the issue of violence goes beyond having officers in schools saying parents and adults in the community need to be better examples for our children.
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