Task force updates Round Rock ISD on future safety priorities, asks for community engagement opportunities

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Round Rock ISD continues to evaluate options for safety and security in light of a looming deadline. The Round Rock Police Department, one of three current providers of school resource officers to the district, will not be able to supply services beyond the 2020-21 academic year.

The board of trustees April 18 received an update from district’s safety and security task force about how possible solutions will be developed. Composed of residents, parents and district staff, the safety and security task force in February was tasked with creating options for school safety and policing.

In Thursday night’s update, the task force outlined five “non-negotiables” members believe are necessary in developing a safety strategy.

“These non-negotiables are about the district and the day in and day out activities of students and teachers in your school and mental health issues,” Task Force Member Lisa Moore said. “Some of those things turn into an issue that causes [a school resource officer]to have to become involved. We want to see the district to do something proactive [in avoiding bad situations]instead of reactive [like]when an SRO is already in a situation.”

According to the update, a strategy selected by the board should address institutional racism, equity and mental health, should offer continued training opportunities beyond what is required by law and should be evaluated by an independent oversight committee.

During the presentation, the task force stated it also wanted to be assured that community feedback would be considered when a final decision is made by the board. Moore said the task force is requesting engagement opportunities such as town hall meetings to gather input from district residents, staff and students.

“We desperately need to get community impact and engagement in a number of different ways,” she said. “We shouldn’t just do it with a town hall, we shouldn’t just do it with a poll. I think that both are needed, and then whatever else can possibly happen.”

RRISD trustees passed a resolution last summer that outlined the district’s intent to establish its own police department. However, in February, trustees revised the resolution to state that further exploration was needed to determine the proper school safety strategies.

Currently, RRISD pays Round Rock Police Department, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Community College for school resource officers to cover its campuses.

Moore said the task force will not present options to the board until additional public engagement has taken place.

Superintendent Steve Flores said April 18 he would have liked to see some options presented at the meeting, but he was appreciative of the time and effort the task force had put into the process. He also said that the public has to realize that there is a possibility starting June 2021 that the district will not be able to receive coverage from Round Rock Police Department or Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.

“I think as more clarity is provided from the city as well as the county it does allow us to look at actions that have happened before because eventually something does have to be done,” he said. “What I’m hearing is there will be more meetings, which I applaud, and allowance for community engagement through some public forums.”

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Nicholas Cicale
Nick was born in Long Island, New York and grew up in South Florida. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in writing and a minor in music. Nick was a journalist for three years at the St. James Plaindealer in Minnesota before moving to Austin to join Community Impact Newspaper in 2016.
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