Board of Education: Reinstate the School Resource Officers for the 2021-22 School Year

Frank A. Calabria Education Center

PARSIPPANY — During the Parsippany Board of Education meeting, held on Tuesday, June 10,  the Board took aim at the Township’s move to end the shared services that provide for School Resource Officers and a Director of Security at Parsippany’s schools.

Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Barbara Sargent read the following statement at the Board of Education meeting:

The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township School District has enjoyed a positive relationship with the local Police Department for many years. Initially developed years ago through a shared services agreement with the Township, this arrangement provides School Resource Officers at the district’s two middle schools and two high schools and a Director of Security to oversee security measures throughout the district and liaise between the district and the police department.

These officers have become a part of the fabric of our school community. They engage with students on a daily basis, they are partners with our school administrators and teachers and represent community policing at its very best. Detectives Lenahan, Ortiz, Curving, and McCarthy are exceptional officers who care deeply about our students and staff and have partnered with our school principals to keep children safe. There have been many, many incidents addressed at an unofficial school level that were resolved before escalating to more official police channels. We are grateful for the work of these officers and proud of their involvement in our schools. From a fiscal perspective, Parsippany-Troy Hills Township School District has always shared in the cost of the salaries for the School Resource Officers and the district has honored that commitment, even when closed for several months due to COVID-19. Under recent “Handle With Care” mandates, our police department partners with our schools to ensure students who experience conflict in their home settings are treated with empathy and sensitivity. The district values its relationship with the Police Department and sincerely appreciates these officers’ service to our community.

Earlier this spring, the Township communicated that they would renew this agreement for a singular year. Last week, however, the Township communicated through their attorney that they would no longer continue this long-standing partnership past June. Whatever the Township’s financial status, the issue of student safety and school community policing should not be a political football to be bounced back and forth. It is inappropriate for the Township to so abruptly vacillate on this issue right before the close of schools, particularly when the agreement calls for discussions to begin no later than April 30th. The Township previously offered to extend for one year and it should honor that commitment.

Amidst the recent pandemic, this community should not forget tragedies such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland. With recent news focusing on students’ social and emotional needs and planning for a safe return to school for all students in September, the Township’s decision to pull these officers is frustrating, to say the least. The Parsippany-Troy Hills School District is one of the few districts in the state to have opened on time, remained consistently open, and successfully transitioned to a full-day schedule. The Township’s decision to end the shared services agreement and remove School Resource Officers from our middle and high schools – with little notice – conflicts with our past positive relationship with the Township as well as the district’s commitment to keeping children safe and supporting their return to school in September.

The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township School District is committed to doing what’s best for our students and their families. We urge the Township to reconsider this decision and approve the shared services agreement that places School Resource Officers in our middle and high schools – and connects them with our students and staff for a safe and positive school year. We look forward to meeting with the Township attorney and officials to discuss this matter face to face and reinstate the School Resource Officers for the 2021-22 school year.

Click here to read ” The Township Responds to Board of Education’s False Statement”