The Ames Middle School issued a shelter-in-place order on Monday morning due to student behavior. Police had to be called in response as there was “significant damage” to two classrooms where multiple panes of glass were broken — including two exterior windows.
“I want to personally acknowledge that this incident was serious and as a school building we are taking this situation seriously,” said Ames Middle School principal Yonas Michael. “As a reminder, individual student discipline is confidential and will be guided by District policy. If your student needs additional support processing this situation, please reach out to your student’s grade-level counselor.”
Readers may remember last spring district leaders went out of their way to praise the School Resource Officers currently in the district as being great while continuing their anti-police movement with efforts to rid the district of SROs.
Former superintendent Jenny Risner said the SROs in the district are “phenomenal” but said “research” used by the Equity Committee should be used by the board to decide how to proceed with SROs.
Risner recommended the board move in a direction to identify what activities the SROs are doing that should be done by district personnel or mental health professionals.
“I think we might be able to deliver services in a way that doesn’t include a gun and a badge,” she said.
Risner noted a contract was in place through the 2021-22 school year to have SROs in the district, but added it would be important to look at how they’d be utilized.
“Having these SROs in the building at all times probably doesn’t meet our mission as a district when we look at our equity work and the research around that,” she said.
Anthony Jones, the district’s equity director, piled on as well saying there were disparities in the data the district used compared to the data provided by SROs. Jones said SROs have “access to our students typically that they would not if they were not in the building.”
Because the district must give notice to the police department of its intent to end the agreement early by Jan. 1, it had to have SROs for this school year.
“How we use those SROs is really up to us as a district,” Risner said.
Risner suggested SROs be based at the district office rather than in the school buildings.
“If there’s an emergency, they would be that first line of response,” Risner said.
Despite the disdain some in the leadership of the Ames District may have for police officers as evidenced by the curriculum used during the BLM Week of Action at School, it is obvious the presence is needed for safety and security.