The Department of Public Instruction provides this page’s information for districts which already have School Resource Officers (SRO) in place or which are considering the hiring or contracting of an SRO and want to follow the best practices available.
The Use of School Resource Officers (SROs)
As with many decisions regarding schools in Wisconsin, districts have local control on the choice to have SROs in their schools and, if so, what the role of the SRO may be. Therefore, this webpage is a resource for families, school districts, educators, school staff and law enforcement agencies to help them make sound decisions for their local community.
In Spring of 2016, a cross-agency work group of staff from the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Student Services/Prevention and Wellness and Special Education teams came together to discuss the use of school resource officers (SROs) in Wisconsin. In May 2016 and June 2017, DOJ and DPI brought together critical stakeholders to discuss the issues and determine what DOJ and DPI could do to support their work across Wisconsin.
School Resource Officer, Equity and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Here are some considerations regarding the use of SROs and the School-to-Prison Pipeline:
- From Leadership for Educational Equity
- From Teaching Tolerance Magazine
- Information from the WestEd Justice and Prevention Resource Center
- From the Regional Educational Laboratory at WestEd Research in Brief: School-Based Law Enforcement. Anthony Petrosino, Trevor Fronius, Darius Taylor; REL West and the Region 15 Comprehensive Center
Alternatives to the Use of SROs
Comprehensive school based mental health resources can be found on the School Mental Health webpage, which includes links to funding sources for mental health practitioners in schools.
There are many ways in which to make schools more safe and supportive. One alternative to School Resource Officers, for instance, is Restorative Practices. Other alternatives can be found in the Safe and Supportive Success Stories Compendium.
In order to have a successful school SRO experience, DOJ, DPI, and the stakeholders have a number of suggested guidelines for best practices. In some cases, agencies may want to build these into their MOU, or use them as a list for discussion when examining a SRO program.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Guidance
This resource provides answers to 37 commonly asked questions regarding School Resource Officers and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
DOJ and DPI strongly suggest that local education agencies (LEAs) and law enforcement articulate the roles and responsibilities of school resource officers and their respective organizations through MOUs. The DPI along with DOJ and the critical stakeholders developed a model framework to use to develop a MOU.