Norfolk, Va.— Virginia Organizing members, parents, workers, and community have opposed the use of armed police officers in Norfolk Public Schools. Research shows that SROs do not prevent school shootings. Furthermore, they are a detriment to the education and mental health of students of color in schools nationwide.
Tonight, members of the Norfolk School Board voted to revise the Memorandum of Understanding between Norfolk Public Schools and the Norfolk School Board. The new MOU gives School Resource Officers a more restorative role, rather than a punitive role, in the schools. There is currently one SRO per school in Norfolk, along with 3-4 security guards (SSOs).
Cierra Lewis, local activist and member of Virginia Organizing, says, “On behalf of Virginia Organizing, we are elated to see the Norfolk School Board implementing some of the changes we’ve championed. This is not a complete removal of School Resource officers as we had hoped. However, it is a victory toward a safe, thriving, and equitable learning experience for the children in our community.”
Rev. Dr. John T. Myers, Associate Conference Minister of the Southern Conference of United Church of Christ, adds, “As a member of Virginia Organizing, I am ecstatic, grateful, and happy about Norfolk Public School’s decision to revise its Memorandum of Understanding with the Norfolk Police Department. Under the revision, SROs will now serve as mentor figures to help students grow, thrive, and reach their highest potential and aspirations. This is a great first step forward in supporting all of our students, families, and communities.”
The Norfolk Chapter of Virginia Organizing has worked on the campaign to remove SRO’s from Norfolk Public Schools since the George Floyd protests sparked localities to look into racial justice issues last summer. While the chapter had hoped for complete removal of SRO’s, they are happy that they were able to bring attention to this important issue, which caused the school board to look into the outdated MOU. The chapter looks forward to continuing their work to support evidence-based social emotional support for students.
To interview a spokesperson for this campaign, please contact Meghan McNamara at 847-922-1213 or Meghan@virginia-organizing.org.