School board discusses contract, policies
By Robert Cloud
The New London school Board approved an agreement of understanding for a school liaison officer at its June 12 meeting.
According to the school district’s fiscal impact statement, having a school liaison officer will cost the district $75,000 annually.
According to the agreement, the New London Police Department will provide one full-time and one part-time officer for 180 days every school year.
The full-time officer will be appointed for a four-year term by mutual agreement between the chief and the district administrator.
The full-time officer will work an 8.5-hour shift and be compensated for working overtime for evening games or other events.
School board member Terry Wegner questioned what appeared to be discrepancies in the policy guidelines and the agreement.
The agreement states, “School Resource Officers are responsible for dealing with city ordinance violations and criminal law issues, not to enforce school discipline or punish students.”
Taking students into custody
“Students shall not be taken into custody at school, except where a child poses a real and immediate threat to student, teacher, or public safety or pursuant to a warrant,” according to the agreement.
However, according to the policy guidelines the officer will “Impartially enforce the laws of the state of Wisconsin, the ordinances of the city of New London, and investigate any acts that are contrary to them.”
Board member Katie Batten asked District Administrator Scott Bleck about how the officer would respond to a disruptive student who is “repeatedly disruptive and keeps getting sent to the principal’s office.”
Bleck said communication with the building level administrator would be the first step in a remediation process.
Board member John Heideman said problems could arise from a dual employer model.
“In places is says he’s working for us, in other placers it says, at the end of the day, he’s really working for the police department,” Heideman said. “I can see this ausing issues down the road.”
“If something happens in the building that is police related, they’ve broken a law or whatever, they’re working for Chief Schlueter, they’re working for the police department,” board member Mark Grossman said. “It doesn’t matter where they are, if that child broke the law, they’re a police officer. their job is to make a decision whether they’re to issue a citation or not.”
Board president Chris Martinson noted that an officer is accountable to the police chief in the same way as a cafeteria worker is accountable to a private company, but in both cases, the company is accountable to the district.
After noting that while the officer is responsible for notifying parents of a child who has been arrested, board member Terry Wegnerasked who would be responsible for notifying the parents of a victim if there was a situation serious enough to lead to an arrest.
“I think that should be our job as the district,” Wegner said.
Although more works remains to be done on the policies, the board unanimously approved approved the agreement of understanding.