SMCISD annually enters into a contract with the council to utilize city police officers as SROs, and both the council and school board approve the parameters and scope of their jobs.
The vote of 4-2 came after a presentation by San Marcos Police Chief Stan Standridge on the changes made by council, including one he recommended striking from the council’s amendments. Board members Miguel Arredondo and Mayra Mejia voted against approval.
Standridge said the council added an amendment to require school resource officers to educate students on how to file a complaint or grievance against an officer; to require a third party present in interactions between students and SROs, including in criminal matters; to answer questions from students that students might have about criminal laws and how to report crimes and violations of their rights; and to require that the school district create a mechanism to collect feedback from caregivers regarding the SRO program.
The third-party requirement was an issue Standridge said is not legal in instances where a juvenile might be counseled on a criminal matter.
“The council approved by a vote of 4-3 any such counseling will be conducted with a minimum of two people present, in addition to the recipient of the counseling,” Standridge said. “I explained to the council that I can’t agree to this because there’s a provision of this that’s not lawful. Please know that the records associated with juvenile defenders ... those are protected by statute. I could not allow a third party in a room when the school resource officer is counseling a student on a criminal justice matter.”
Standridge said he is comfortable with any counseling of a student being conducted with a third party with the exception of any criminal justice matter, because it would be a violation of their privacy and also a burden to call in another officer to campus to be a second party to the exchange.
“This process has been incredibly bizarre watching it unfold. This came to us, and we approved it unanimously a few months ago. Something somewhere has happened that we’ve been given a directive to do things that are outside of the purview of the district. ... I am in favor of the contract we approved several months ago,” Arredondo said.
The board removed the provision for the third-party requirement in the case of students engaging in criminal activity and added a provision to the amendment to collect feedback from caregivers and added staff and students.
The new agreement now goes back to the council for review.