I should congratulate Maria Pereira. She’s finally done it!
Her and her buddies have finally figured out a way to cut ties with the city — instead of arguing over the details of the memorandum of understanding between the two entities, as they did for the past few years, they’ve switched to flat-out eliminating services under the city’s management.
That’s basically what happened on Monday, when, despite strong public opposition, the school board voted, 6-2, to eliminate School Resource Officers (SROs) from their budget.
As much as I wish it were, that’s not a typo.
As of July 1st, they’re getting rid of every school police officer serving the Bridgeport Public School System. They did this without a plan. The school board didn’t even bother to reach out to the city to see if there was a way for them to fund SROs.
Obviously members of the public were outraged by this decision. One parent, Mary Tracy, who said her daughter was already scared to go to school, blankly asked the school board “how they could do this to the high schools?” A good question, considering the recent rash of fighting.
Jeanette Herron, city councilwoman for the 133th district, warned the board that they better be prepared for more injuries and more fighting.
“The school police know our children,” said Herron. “They know their personalities, they know how to de-escalate these kids.”
One of the consequences of this decision is that school-related calls will be left to the already short-staffed Bridgeport Police Department. At the moment school arrests are down, in part, due to the training SROs receive. Since the city took over management of school security, arrests dropped from 207 in 2010 to 38 this year.
Even Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz was also against the vote. “We need these people,” said Rabinowitz in an interview with News Channel 12. “With the proper training they are the people who many times connect to our kids when others can’t.”
Did any of this stop the board from making such a rash decision? Nope. As usual, sticking it to the city is more important than the children of Bridgeport.
According to Pereira, who spearheaded the proposal to cut these positions, the reason for pushing this ill-advised vote forward was because she believed the city was being “disrespectful” to the board.
Does Ms. Pereira realize she’s a local school board member not a fictional mafia boss?
Student lives are at risk here. While there are absolutely legitimate arguments against SROs in schools, in the climate we live in today, risking kids over a petty fight with the city is not one of them. That’s what this is about. Just as when they voted to charge the lighthouse after school program $500,000, this is about Pereira and other board members’ obsession with cutting ties with the city.
Here’s a question for Don Pereira and the rest of the board: Are they going to take responsibility when a student gets hurt or fatally injured in incidents of school violence?
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