WCDSB resource officer program to stay paused while board debates its future

The school resource officer program at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board will remain paused as the board and trustees continue to debate its future.

The program was put on hold last spring, amid calls for police reform.

At a virtual board meeting Monday night, trustees raised a number of concerns about the program after a consultant’s report brought to light mixed feelings from staff and students.

The report was conducted earlier this year and gathered input from students, teachers, and community members.

It found that students shared a mix of positive and negative experiences and perceptions, while staff overwhelmingly supported the officers’ approach and response to discipline issues.

“There was a large disconnect between staff and student perception and it was disappointing, to be honest, that staff didn’t have a better understanding of police on racialized students,” said Melanie Vanalphen, WCDSB chairperson.

However, the report also found that some respondents didn’t even know the program existed.

Keeping the program on pause for now was among the report’s recommendations. Trustees who spoke at the meeting also supported the move.

“I do think that there is a place for school resource officers in the school, but I do think the program has to be reimagined. I think it has to be changed,” said WCDSB trustee Wendy Price.

The board says that while program is paused, a student census will be done this fall to help shape the future of the program.

This comes just over a month after trustees with the Upper Grand District School Board voted to remove their resource officer program. Police in the area will still be responsible for transportation safety and in emergency situations, but the board will vet and notify parents in advance of any police presentations to students.

The resource officer program at the Waterloo Region District School Board is also currently suspended while the program is under review.