Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What Is The Job Of The School Resource Officer?

Allow me to begin by telling you that I am the reason you have school resource officers in Guilford County Schools today.

No, I didn't put them there but way back before the Greensboro Public Schools merged with the Guilford County Schools I was the victim of a near death beating by a gang of 8-10 young men who walked onto the campus of Greensboro's Dudley High School, cornered me in the men's room of the North Annex and beat me almost to death.

Why? I don't know. Who were they? Again, I never knew them. And despite the fact that Assistant Principal Bradley found me lying in a pool of my own blood and rushed me to Cone Hospital himself, Superintendent of Greensboro City Schools, Dr House told my mother "...the incident did not take place on school property." I was standing just outside his open office door.

But when I walked into his office my face wrapped like an Egyptian mummy, broken ribs, arm in a sling and bandages on exposed skin everywhere he could see, he only looked at the floor when my mother angrily shouted, "Doctor House, I want you to tell my son what you just told me."

You see our schools have long been run the same way our city is run. If it weren't for cell phone cameras a deputy in South Carolina would still be slamming little girls face first into the floor on a regular basis just like he was doing before. That's why the kids down there had previously nicknamed him, Mr Slam.

The year was 1971. I was 15 then. I had already suffered the violence that so many of us suffered at Aycock Jr High School in those years. Our teachers and principals had long attacked the situation by paddling everyone involved in a fight no matter who started it or what it was about. So when a gang attacks you then the best you could look forward to was getting a beating if you won or lost-- 2 beatings if you lost.

And because none of this made the media none of our parents believed things could possibly be out of control.

But my Momma having to come to Cone Hospital to pick me up after school changed everything. I had 3 younger brothers and what had happened to me was not going to happen to them.

Momma is and always has been relentless, and before she was done she had pushed Al Lineberry and the rest of the Greensboro City School Board into putting 2 security guards in each of the 4 Greensboro City High Schools, Dudley, Page, Smith and Grimsley.

To fill these positions they hired unemployed high school coaches-- big young men certified to teach in North Carolina who weren't scared but knew how to treat people. None of them carried guns, tasers or pepper spray but a few were known to walk around with baseball bats, blackjacks and nunchucks on occasion. But mostly all they ever needed do was show up.

Their job was to protect students, not beat them up. I suspect they were involved in disciplinary decisions to the same degree that any teacher might be so involved but then they were certified to teach in the State of North Carolina. And it's my assumption that teachers are or should be trained in disciplinary matters.

So when I see on Fox8 that:

"Lissa Harris, with Parents Supporting Parents, believes there should be a distinction between using SROs for security and using them for discipline.

“The schools-to-prison pipeline is real,” she explained. “Court counselors are telling us when we go meet with them that there’s a disconnect because they are getting these frivolous charges and when they investigate them it’s not the volume it should be.”

I think, Wait a minute, cops aren't allowed to discipline people on the streets, why are we allowing cops to discipline children in our schools? A cop's job is to protect and serve, not discipline. If our SROs are taking care of discipline then what in the hell are school administrators doing-- spending their days playing golf and hanging out in strip clubs?

Houston, we have a problem!

We need more guidance counselors and mental health professionals in our schools. We need more hands on training that teaches necessary life skills and burns off energy. We need work programs. Guilford County has one of the lowest dropout rates in the state but I suspect the real reason so many kids are staying in school are not because they want to stay in school but because school provides 2 hot meals a day and other kids to hang out with. Maybe some of those kids don't need to be in regular schools but we must provide something for them as jails and prisons are not learning institutions. We need projects in the projects.

The problems with our schools are nothing new. It went on in my day as well. Not only was I almost beat to death but I remember instances of students attacking teachers and teachers attacking students. The problems really began when we started doing away with community schools. Teachers have a hard job. It's made even harder by consolidated schools. Want trouble? Put 1500 to 2000 people under one roof. Want even more trouble, put 1500-2000 teenagers under one roof.

It doesn't take a high school graduate to figure this out. As a matter of fact: my formal education ended that October day in 1971. In 1974 I was granted a fake high school diploma by the Greensboro City Schools despite the fact that I hadn't attended an English class since 1971 and had been stoned for 3 years while trying to mask the fear of being there-- the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that has haunted me ever since.