Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools plans to continue contracting with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Kernersville Police Department to provide school resource officers for the next academic year. 

But officials are looking to revise the agreement, in part to clarify when SROs should be handling disciplinary issues.

The district’s Chief Legal Counsel Dionne Jenkins explained this at a meeting on Tuesday. 

“SROs should only get involved in more serious, egregious offenses that occur on campus, or other offenses that rise to some level of a criminal violation," Jenkins said.

Officials say it’s up to school staff to handle lower-level issues, like a verbal altercation or a student being disruptive in class, rather than calling an SRO. But if an officer sees a fight or other behavioral problem on their own, they still have a duty to act. 

Jenkins says the proposed contract also includes new language related to the use of pepper spray and fogging devices. 

“The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office and the Kernersville Police Department have committed to us that they would only use a fogging device indoors as somewhat of a last resort," Jenkins said. "Only when other measures are not effective or not feasible, and after giving ample warnings and time for all parties to disperse would these devices be used.”

Officers will need to immediately notify the school district’s security officials when those devices are used. 

The contract also establishes a more formal review and complaint process related to SRO conduct. Jenkins says that component was required by the federal Office of Civil Rights. 

The Board of Education will consider the new contract at their next meeting on June 25. 

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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