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School Board Approves Relocating SROs Off APS Grounds

Arlington School Board Chair Monique O’Grady during the June 24 meeting (via Arlington Public Schools)

The Arlington School Board voted during its meeting last night (Thursday) to remove School Resource Officers (SROs) from school buildings.

As part of the vote, SROs — a unit of sworn officers within the Arlington County Police Department — will be moved off-site and will still provide services like driving and substance abuse education, as well as law enforcement support on an as-needed basis.

Officers will get a new title to reflect their new role, such as “youth resource officers,” Superintendent Francisco Durán told the board.

He told the board his recommendation to retain the relationship but relocate the officers is grounded in recommendations made by an APS workgroup that was convened last year to examine the role of SROs after the Arlington branch of the NAACP called for their removal. The local NAACP cited disparities in juvenile arrests in Arlington, in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police and the conversation nationwide about race and policing.

“I want to thank my colleagues for their support for moving this piece of historic leadership forward,” Board Chair Monique O’Grady said during the meeting.

Board Vice-Chair Barbara Kanninen commended O’Grady for her work bringing this to fruition.

“I especially want to make clear to the community that this was a priority for you as chair,” she said. “This was the one item, other than dealing with the pandemic, that you committed to, argued strongly for, and now we’re here.”

Over the next two months, Arlington Public Schools will be hammering out a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Arlington County Police Department to prepare for the start of school this fall, said APS Chief of Staff Brian Stockton.

“The last one took nine months this time we’re going to try and speed it up,” he said.

The decision comes nearly two months after a School Resource Officer helped to secure Wakefield High School in response to a call from a staff member, who alleged a student was making threats and had what was described as a bulletproof vest.

Funding for SROs, a total of $3 million, comes from Arlington County and is a gift to APS, Stockton said.

Some speakers argued for reinvesting the $3 million in mental health services.

Among them was rising Washington-Liberty High School junior Benjamin Portner, who told board members about his experience with SROs in elementary school and how still today, he carries “a great deal of nervousness when they pass me in the hall or even when they try to speak friendly manner.”

“Having them on and off-campus is a constant reminder to these students, and really all students, that the potential for violence remains in schools,” he said.

Board Member Cristina Diaz-Torres said she agreed with his sentiments and those of other speakers who asked for the $3 million to be reinvested in mental health services, but concluded that it is not a possibility at this time.

“[The vote] is a step forward, but it is certainly not the end of the journey: There is so much more that needs to be done,” she said. “We need to do to beef up the mental health resources for our students, so we can ensure that any student in crisis has the resources they need and they never have to interact with an SRO or the criminal-legal system at all.”

APS is the second district in the region to remove SROs from schools.

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It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

For further information and to request a copy of the Final EA or FONSI, please contact Brian King, Environmental and Sustainability Program Manager, WHS/Facilities Services Directorate/Standards and Compliance Division/Environmental and Sustainability Branch; (703-614-3658 or [email protected]). Please include “Pentagon Master Plan Final EA and FONSI” in the subject line.

Submit your own Announcement here.

The 3rd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference will feature Thomas Silverstein, renowned Fair Housing expert and Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Come hear the latest news about fair housing enforcement, policy, and programs within Arlington County, Virginia, and across the country! Our expert panelists and guest speakers include fair housing advocates, elected officials, and government officials tasked with advancing housing equity at the local, state, and federal level.

Arlington has made substantial strides in advancing housing equity and improving fair housing policy with the adoption of the Regional Fair Housing Plan in 2023. Come learn what’s next to fight housing discrimination, incorporate equity for marginalized populations in our housing policies and programs, and increase awareness of fair housing rights under state and federal law.

We’ll have updates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing federal rule, a panel discussion of fair housing progress at the General Assembly and across Virginia, and a panel of local experts discussing the progress Arlington has made and what remains to be done.
Please RSVP in advance to ensure you receive your free lunch at the conference. Free and open to the public.

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Submit your own Announcement here.

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