Deadline to weigh in school resource officers extended

The resource officer program has been in London and area schools for years, but after protests last year led to calls for change, the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) decided to review it.

“We need to be guided by the voices of our students, our parents and our community at all times, and so we really need to do our best to get as many responses as possible,” says Dennis Wright, TVDSB superintendent of student achievement, safe schools and well-being.

The survey has been available for the past two weeks, but the groups that represent the communities the survey is focused on hearing from, say it needs to be more visible.

“I think it’s a matter that making sure people know where the survey is as a starting point,” says Multicultural Outreach Program Coordinator at LUSO Community Services Leroy Hibbert.

As of Wednesday morning just over 3,000 people have clicked on the survey, a low number that has led to the extension of the deadline to June 15.

Following that date, data will be gathered and some community involvement, possibly a round-table type discussion, will be held in July.

“It’s very critical in having a conversation about what it can do to communities that have experienced it in the past, or they’ve had a historical context of situations with law enforcement,” says Hibbert.

Those conversations are expected to lead to recommendations from The Centre for Organizational Effectiveness, a third party company that is handling the survey on behalf of the school boards and police agencies in the area.

Any changes that come from the process are expected to go into effect by the fall.

“I can’t anticipate what those recommendations may look like, but the board is certainly committed to ensuring a do no harm for all of our students,” says Wright

Alexandra Kane from Black Lives Matter London says this should not be a consensus issue, “If we’re going around saying every child matters, and if one child finds issues, there need so be a swift response to that.”

And the payoff, according to Kane, is more than worthwhile.

“Changing that culture of your organization is so important, and encourages students to learn better.”

Those interested have until June 15 to complete the survey.