Cedar Rapids Schools holds first of two feedback sessions on school resource officer changes

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - This summer, the Cedar Rapids Community School District is figuring out what role its school resource officers will serve starting next school year.

School resource officers, also known as SROs, are all officers within the Cedar Rapids Police Department who currently serve at seven schools in the district — Jefferson High School, Kennedy High School, Metro High School, Washington High School, McKinley Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, and Polk Alternative Education Center.

On Monday, parents, staff, and community members had a chance to weigh in on the discussion in the first of two listening and feedback sessions hosted by the district.

During the session, which was held at Roosevelt Middle School, Deputy Superintendent Nicole Kooiker explained the changes came at the behest of students, who said not everyone felt comfortable with the SROs in their buildings.

Recent statistics show there are wide disparities in the number of interactions these officers have with Black students and White students, including that Black students in Cedar Rapids schools are more than six times likelier to have a school-related incident that leads to juvenile court than their White classmates.

Most of the people at Monday’s session were school staff.

But Kooiker said they want to get a wide variety of viewpoints on this discussion.

“This is something people really feel strong and passionate about. Everybody wants our students and staff to feel safe and secure and welcomed in our environments, and what that means and how that’s defined for everybody may be just a little bit different,” Kooiker said.

There will be another feedback and listening session Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at McKinley Middle School.

People can also fill out an online survey to share their thoughts and feedback on the SRO program with the district.

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