Newark High School (file)

A Newark Police cruiser parked out front of Newark High School

The Christina School Board unanimously voted to retain its school resource officer program for 2020-21, after waiting a few weeks to get more information.

The six remaining members of the board after Dr. Meredith Griffin's resignation earlier on Tuesday heard from speakers set up by new district superintendent Dan Shelton, who was at his first Christina meeting after being hired away from the Capital School District.

Sgt. Brian Pixley, who helps run the statewide SRO program, said one criticism has been the presence of police in schools has led to more incidents

"We don't believe that reports to police will necessarily go down if the elimination of SRO officers took place. We also have no involvement with school discipline. We leave that solely up to the school and stay out of it. There's really no proactive policing with the SRO program other than to simply stop any potential violence."

Bayard Principal Victoir Calhoun said his SRO Deborah Holden has gone out of her way to be seen as a member of her assigned school's community during her five year run at the Wilmington school.

"She has invested time in growing the relationship with all stakeholders in the building and school community. She talks to the kids in the hallway, she talks to the kids between classes, she talks to them in the cafeteria during breakfast and lunch, she talks to the kids on the busport, or whatever other opportunity presents itself."

Shue-Medill Principal Michele Savage said having SRO Matthew Owens' experience helped prevent an even bigger issue at her school.

"We had a social media threat about two years ago in the fall, and he worked with the police the entire evening. I found out about dinner time, he was out with the police force, he was on the phone to me. He was determined to figure it out so we could safely open the next morning. [We did]."

Acting Christina School Board President Keeley Powell did vote to keep the SROs, but said she has some reservations.

"Keeping in mind the safety and security of everyone, including protecting students from those who wish to do them harm, but I also highly value this idea of school climate, and making sure we're not in this situation where we're going to continue to ignore or let black students be disciplined more severely than their white counterparts, because that's a major problem."

While the Christina School District voted to keep their program, the Red Clay School District is expected to vote Wednesday night on a "George Floyd and Breonna Taylor Resolution" to terminate their SRO contract.

If passed, Red Clay funds for SROs and other law enforcement officers would go towards social workers, school counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.