Christiansburg, Va. – The New River Valley Chapter of Virginia Organizing and the Montgomery-Radford-Floyd Branch of the NAACP are celebrating the adoption of new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between Montgomery County Public Schools and local law enforcement, which is the result of their 16-month grassroots campaign to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in their area. The new MOUs redefine the role of school resources officers by ensuring that law enforcement do not participate in providing student discipline, but instead allow for other trained school personnel to attend to student needs.
“The inappropriate involvement of law enforcement in school discipline matters is one major cause of injustice, “ said Ruth Grene, a New River Valley Chapter leader and NAACP member. “Because of this, Virginia Organizing has worked with school administrators to revise the MOUs which regulate the interaction of SROs with students so as to lessen their respective roles in school discipline matters.”
Deborah H. Travis, President of the MRF NAACP, stated, “it’s very important for students to feel safe in their schools and to have school personnel that students know best to handle disciplinary matters. Parents should also have the opportunity to interact with the schools in resolving issues. When needed, the collaboration and support of SROs can be valuable for safety and security. The changes in the MOUs is a step in the right direction.”
The new MOUs provide clear instructions for school resource officers to avoid becoming involved with discipline issues, which was a concern for parents of students across the district. Additionally, the updated MOU details an evaluation process that will be shared with the public at least annually.
“As a parent of an MCPS student, and a member of Virginia Organizing, I’m glad to see MCPS start to direct resources and take further steps to improve equity in schools,” said Ginny Pannabecker, “including directly involving students, families, and community members across class, race, ability, gender-identity, and other groups to center those who have traditionally been left out of planning and discussions and to take steps that improve our schools for all. I look forward to seeing and hearing regular updates on the results of this community-involved work.”
Local community leaders of Virginia Organizing and the MRF NAACP continue to work with area schools so that they become more equitable places for students to learn, to grow, and to be nurtured as future leaders in the New River Valley. Leaders celebrate this shift in district policy and will look forward to future work with parents, students, and other community members to achieve education justice.
To interview a spokesperson about this community update, contact Andrae Hash at firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 320-7204.