This directive follows a lack of action from the Williamson County Commissioners Court on Dec. 17. Commissioners declined to vote on a proposed memorandum of understanding seeking 27 officers to staff RRISD schools beyond 2021.
“I respect the fact that they at least put it on their agenda,” trustee Chad Chadwell said. “I wish that they had at least had some discussion so the public could have heard their reasoning.”
Board President Amy Weir said RRISD trustees have not yet approved specifics for a district-run police department.
“In October, we asked staff to do two tracks: work with Williamson County and also start looking at our own PD,” Weir said. “So we’ve lost one of those tracks, and all we’re going to do tonight is officially remove it and go with our one remaining track.”
Trustee Amber Feller, who crafted the memorandum of understanding, or MOU, proposal for Williamson County, said she is hopeful about community support as the school district moves forward with the creation of its own police department.
“While I’m disappointed with the lack of action that the commissioners court took, I spent a lot of time working with a lot of different individuals in leadership roles, and overwhelmingly, without a single exception, they want to work with us as we move forward,” Feller said.
A task force formed in July 2018 was asked to develop three to five safety and security options for the district and to present the recommendations to the board.
“Safety and security of students and teachers in RRISD is not just about policing and SROs,” said task force co-chair Lisa Moore on Dec. 19. “It’s not just about illegal activity. It’s not just about mass shootings. There’s so much more that goes on on a daily basis in our schools that puts our students at risk for safety and security.”
Trustee Nikki Gonzales said she was not in support of the memorandum of understanding as it was submitted to Williamson County.
“I believed [the MOU] would have ignored all the work the task force had done,” Gonzales said. “We were not given the option to have mental health training [or] to have institutional racism training. I think this is our time to shape that, to listen to the task force and to marry the two—SRO and behavioral health. I think that’s our plan going forward. I feel sure that it is.”
Gonzales added: “As we go forward, I feel confident that we’re going to make it something that is a model for the state.”