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Edmonton Public Schools suspending its School Resources Officer program for 20/21 school year

Last Updated Sep 4, 2020 at 1:55 pm MST

A empty hallway is seen at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver,on Sept. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

EDMONTON – Edmonton Public Schools is suspending its school resource officer program for the 20/21 school year.

EPS’ Board of Trustees is introducing the Youth Enhanced Deployment (YED) model, which will see police officers trained with youth be assigned to two areas of the city – the north and south, and they will respond to calls in schools and the community. This model will only be in place for the 20/21 school year.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that community members have concerns about the School Resource Officer program and we’ve taken this feedback very seriously,” said Board Chair Trisha Estabrooks. “The Board has endorsed the decision that officers will be removed from Edmonton Public Schools this school year while a formal review of the School Resource Officer program is being conducted.”

An independent evaluation and research the SRO program was approved by the Board of Trustees in June 2020. It will continue as the division transfers to the YED program. The board also asked division administration to look at alternative ways of how the Edmonton Police Service could support schools.

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Edmonton Police responded to the suspension in a statement Friday.

“The EPS is disappointed to learn of the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) Board of Trustees decision to suspend the Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) School Resource Officer (SRO) program for the 2020-21 school year. The EPS enjoyed working collaboratively with the students, staff and school administrators of EPSB and will be participating in the upcoming independent review of the SRO program.”

Superintendent Darrel Robertson says two organizations will be in collaboration throughout the school year to make changes to YED if needed.

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“Our Division and the Edmonton Police Service share the common goals of student, staff and school safety, and positive, proactive engagement with youth,” said Robertson. “We’re putting the new model in place now so our schools have certainty about how they will be supported as classes begin.”

Plans for the 2021-2022 school year will be based on the review of the School Resource Officer program.