Nov 7, 2012 11:41 PM by Maddie Garrett
With more than 140 arrests in Lafayette Parish Schools, and growing stress for teachers in the classroom, the Lafayette Parish School Board is turning it's focus to fixing disciplinary problems.
Head of School Resource Officers(RSO), Sgt. Mark Francis, said the total number of arrests isn't out of the ordinary compared to years past, however there are certain schools with more trouble than others. For example, in September, officers made 22 arrests at Paul Breaux Middle School and 20 at the new N.P. Moss Preparatory Academy. N.P. Moss is now the school that houses all of the district's alternative and discipline programs.
Lafayette Schools teacher Nancy Romero was a teacher at N.P. Moss this year, and said something needs to be done.
"There are teachers all over the parish that have been feeling that the discipline issues have escalated and we really need help," said Romero at Wednesday night's Board meeting.
Romero taught at N.P. Moss for 12 weeks this fall, she said it was a tough stretch, one that the school board needed to hear about.
"When you're in a situation for 12 weeks where there's so much going on, it's very stressful and I just felt like we needed to let the board know publicly that teachers are struggling out there and we need help," said Romero.
Sgt. Francis said help is on the way. The RSO's are currently adjusting their posts to add more officers at troubled schools, like Paul Breaux and N.P. Moss.
"We're in a process of adding some additional support to the campus because we know the student population is increasing at the site," he explained.
But Board Member Dr. Hunter Beasley had wanted to do more for schools across the parish by possibly adding more resource officers and spreading them more evenly throughout schools. He had an agenda item Wednesday night that would look at adding more officers to make SRO's more evenly dispersed throughout schools. He ended up withdrawing his item because the administration presented a safety plan to address the issue.
"Discipline issues, yeah it is stressful and I'm talking to teachers and I'm recognizing it and it's unfortunate that we just can't move as quickly as we would really want to move," said Dr. Beasley.
Instead of adding more resource officers, the School System is looking at adding "safety officers" which would be non-police staff that could enforce the rules and handle discipline issues to help teachers and assist SRO's.
"Anything would help, more social workers would help, more psychiatrists would help," said Romero.
Sgt. Francis said the SRO's feel confident in their work, but additional help is always welcome, "so they could work hand in hand and help be some additional eyes and ears on the campus for prevention and safety."