Petition for resource officer circling in Fredonia

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy: Many came out to the Fredonia Board of Education meeting on Tuesday. Several individuals, including Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis, spoke about the need for a school resource officer.

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy: Many came out to the Fredonia Board of Education meeting on Tuesday. Several individuals, including Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis, spoke about the need for a school resource officer.

Those who feel a resource officer is needed at the Fredonia Central School District can make their voices heard through an online petition.

Julie LaGrow was one of a few individuals who attended last week’s Fredonia Board of Education meeting to discuss the reinstatement of a school resource officer. Two years have passed since the resource officer program was dropped at the school district following a village board decision not to fund it.

School and village officials worked last year on an agreement to bring back a resource officer position. The two sides couldn’t settle, however. Board President Michael Bobseine said in September 2016 that the school district was facing fiscal challenges with drops in state aid and student population.

LaGrow, who started the online petition on change.org recently, said the students, their safety and their education are important to all parents and the community in Fredonia. LaGrow told the OBSERVER last week that officials must find a way to fund the position.

“When I hear that the police have had to be called to the school 19 times between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, it makes me think that teachers and administrators are being forced to focus on safety concerns rather than teaching, and our kids are being distracted from their learning,” she said. “A school resource officer would be a great step in the right direction.”

As of Saturday evening, more than 212 people visited the site to add their name to the petition. Comments from those in support of a resource officer also fill the page. The petition will be delivered to the board of education at the next meeting, which is slated for Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. at the High School Library. LaGrow she said she hopes the petition gets delivered with 500 signatures.

LaGrow added there are many needs in the community and she believes a school resource officer should be a top priority.

“I’m hoping that the new superintendent and the school board will be able to take a fresh and critical look at the situation, and find the funding within the current budget,” he said. “If it takes some outside-the-box creativity to find the funding, so be it, it’s that important. For instance, perhaps the village of Fredonia would consider restoring the level of funding they previously provided, since this issue affects the community, not just the school. Regardless, this is an issue that ought to be put on the front burner and acted upon.”

Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis said early last week that the school resource officer matter is getting nowhere. She also placed concerns over the fact the school is not willing and not investing money in an officer.

Bobseine said the topic will be placed on the agenda where questions will be answered at the next meeting.

The following is written by LaGrow on change.org:

Our children, their safety and their education are important to all parents and the community of Fredonia. But since September, Fredonia police have been summoned to the high school 19 times! We need to support our teachers and administrators, and create a positive and safe learning environment for our students. A School Resource Officer can help us with this need.

A School Resource Officer (SRO) would be a welcome addition to our district. School Resource Officers can be a valuable part of the school staff and an important link between students, teachers, administrators, the police, and the community. They can deter and respond to criminal behavior at school. They can provide security and coordinate response during emergency situations. As role models, they build a bond between young people and law enforcement that provides understanding from both sides. SROs can engage with students at special events and help to create an inclusive environment that is free from bullying. Students who feel safe become better learners and better citizens. School Resource Officers are not meant to be the school disciplinarian, but their presence does help students, staff and administrators focus on education.

The Fredonia Central School District has had a SRO on the premises in the past. We as parents and community members are respectfully asking the Board of Education to reinstate this position. We ask for this because we value the safety and security for everyone in the school community: teachers, administrators, and most of all, our children.

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