City council OKs community engagement officers in Schenectady schools
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Schenectady City Council voted overwhelmingly to authorize an agreement with the school district to provide community engagement officers in schools. It comes after a long and contentious debate over the issue between parents, students and members of the community.
After months of debate, the school board narrowly voted in March to approve the implementation of the officers, in a 4-3 vote. Monday night, the city council did the same, with six counselors voting in favor of the resolution and one abstaining.
But prior to the vote, the debate continued, with several people voicing their concerns over the place of the officers in the district.
“In moments of stress, we can expect those officers to do no more than react as law enforcement officers, not school counselors, not support staff for children that are running into trouble,” said Melanie Trimble, the Chapter Director of the NYCLU’s Capital Region chapter during open microphone.
While some speakers voiced their concerns over officers in schools, others vehemently supported the idea, “I don’t need statistics to tell me what the right answer is, I have real life experience about the trauma that my child experienced,” said Theresa Doty, a parent in the district.
Doty says her son was attacked by another student at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, “He was seriously injured. He was physically injured in school and traumatized from the whole situation. He did not return to the Schenectady School District as a student after that.”
She said she believes if community engagement officers would have been in the building, the situation would have ended differently.
With several instances of violence, the Schenectady City School District has been participating in a pilot program with the Schenectady Police Department for officers in the high school.
Earlier this school year, the district brought in two community engagement officers.
Just last week, police say those officers played an integral role in identifying a 17-year-old after he allegedly walked into the high school with a ski mask, gloves and an imitation handgun. That suspect was arrested.
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