A citizen-led task force of community members, parents, law enforcement partners, administrators and teachers will begin meeting this summer to explore options for providing police presence and security on Round Rock ISD campuses, including the possibility of establishing a Round Rock ISD Police Department.
“While our mission is education, the safety and welfare of our students and staff must always be our top priority,” Superintendent Steve Flores, Ph.D., said. “As educators, we are charged with the care of our community’s most precious possession—its children. It is our responsibility, our duty, to do all we can to ensure their safety.”
Last month, Round Rock ISD’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution that calls for the further exploration and consideration of the establishment of a police department in collaboration with local law enforcement partners and a plan for engaging the community in the process. The formation of the task force is an important step in creating pathways for community engagement. District leaders—with input from community members—are inviting representatives from several local and area law enforcement agencies to join the task force, as well as principals, teachers and Round Rock ISD parents and community members who have expressed interest in this issue. Two members of the Board of Trustees will also join the task force conversation.
Round Rock ISD community members and parents Katrena Plummer and Seth Flowers will serve as chair and co-chair of the task force, which will be charged with exploring options for providing a daily law enforcement presence on Round Rock ISD campuses. The task force will also collect community input (with support of District staff) and prepare a report to the Board addressing issues including:
- Any viable alternatives to a District-operated police department or the recommendation to proceed with development of a District police department.
- Recommendations regarding the policies and procedures for how a department would be operated and managed.
- Recommendations regarding oversight of the department.
- Recommended profiles for a Chief of Police and District officers.
- Concerns regarding an over-representation of minority students receiving discipline referrals or alternative placement, and how a District-operated police department could impact that issue.
Flores shared a message with the community last month explaining the impetus for the discussion on whether the District needs its own department. Most large districts in Texas—and many small districts—operate their own departments, in part so they can ensure schools are adequately staffed with school resource officers and that those officers are trained in school-based policing, including a focus on diversity training, mental health awareness, and restorative discipline practices.
The Board of Trustees identified safety issues as a priority in a 2016 Board retreat and charged the District with exploring the possibility of establishing a department. Later that year, the District commissioned a safety audit conducted by the Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools. The audit report, delivered in January 2017, included a recommendation that Round Rock ISD should establish an ISD Police Department to become the law enforcing entity for the District.
Concerns have become critical over the past year as local law enforcement partners have struggled to staff schools with school resource officers. Currently, the District partners with three local law enforcement agencies to provide school resource officers at Round Rock ISD secondary schools. However, there have been many instances when officers have been reassigned from a school to community duty, leaving significant gaps in coverage.
“I look forward to leading a task force of other concerned community members, law enforcement experts, and educators as we explore this critical issue,” Plummer said. “As a parent, nothing is more important to me than the safety of my children. It is crucial that, as a community, we gather data, ask the tough questions, and explore the best options for keeping our campuses safe.”