GUELPH – The Wellington Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) has announced it will continue its School Resource Officer (SRO) program during the upcoming school year.
Director of education Mike Glazier announced the decision during the board’s regular meeting on June 7.
“We’ve shown a commitment to continuing that program for the upcoming year and working with Guelph Police Services to develop a program that meets the needs of both Guelph Police Services as well as our school board and one that’s responsive to staff and students,” said Glazier.
He met with Guelph Police Services representatives on June 2 to discuss WCDSB’s SRO program and commitment to the program for the upcoming year.
There is recognition that the program has changed over the years and there is a desire to strengthen the program in a proactive and responsive way to support students in the future, board officials say.
Unlike the WCDSB, the Upper Grand District School Board voted unanimously in April to discontinue its SRO program.
Glazier explained the Catholic board conducted a review that highlighted seven recommendations, of which five are already current practices within the board.
One of the recommendations, he noted, is about administrative collection of data on incidents involving police in schools. He explained that will be included in Guelph Police’s future mandate for the program.
In addition, the board will be introducing an alternative suspension program in collaboration with the YMCA.
Members of the board’s senior team have met with Three Rivers YMCA staff to discuss an alternative suspension program for students serving a suspension for three to five days, beginning in the fall of the 2021 school year.
The program will allow for in-person support and programming for students serving suspensions of that length.
Board trustee Vikki Dupuis asked what staffing would look like in the program in terms of educators.
Glazier said the YMCA program is funded and staffed by the YMCA and a child youth worker would be available to work with students.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to work with them, knowing that this is something where these students will be supervised, they’ll be guided and they have a program,” he said.
“Really this sort of helps to fill a gap in the sense that we don’t have any programming currently in place for those suspensions that might be in that three- to five-day range.”
WCDSB will be reviewing the SRO program ahead of the fall.