Manitoba school division reviewing having police officers in schools

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A school division in Manitoba is reviewing its school resource officer (SRO) program, where police officers come to work in the schools.

On Tuesday, the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) said all staff, students in Grades 7 to 12, and parents and guardians have been asked to provide feedback on the program through an online survey.

Students, parents, guardians and staff will also have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one interviews and focus groups.

Louise Johnston, chair of the LRSD board of trustees, said in a news release that this equity-based review an important step in getting a better understanding of the impact of the SRO program.

“We are hoping for responses from a variety of voices in our community as the results will shape recommendations on the future of the program in LRSD,” Johnston said.

The anonymous survey, which was sent out on April 5, takes three to five minutes to complete, and will be open until April 19. The final report on the SRO program will be released in the summer.

“Understanding the perspectives of our community is key to everything we do and something we value deeply in LRSD,” said Christian Michalik, the division’s superintendent.

“My hope is that individuals who self-identify as Indigenous, Black, persons of colour, or belong to other equity-seeking groups and who have had direct experience with the SRO will share their important feedback with us.”

At the end of September 2020, Winnipeg city council approved a contract renewal for the SRO program.

The program has faced opposition from members of the community, who say it is a detriment to students in marginalized communities.

- With files from CTV’s Jeff Keele.