D-64 SRO Duties And Responsibilities: When’s A Cop’s Not A Cop?


We apologize for the eleventh-hour nature of this post, but on the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the School Board for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 (7:00 p.m. at Emerson Middle School) is a discussion of the “Mission Statement” and the “Intergovernmental Agreements” (the “IGA”s) for the proposed School Resource Officer (“SRO”) pilot program.

In classic Queen of Hearts fashion (“Sentence first–verdict afterward.” ), D-64 drafted the IGAs before it had approved (or even drafted?) the Mission Statement on which the IGAs were ostensibly to be based. But for a District overseen by a Board led by Tony “Who’s The Boss?” Borrelli and administered by Supt. Laurie “I’m The Boss!” Heinz, that kind of bass-ackwards approach is one of D-64’s lesser mistakes.

We’ve reviewed the drafts of those documents and have several questions, one of the more important ones of which requires a scenario such as the following: The SRO sees one Lincoln or Emerson student hand another one what looks like a bag of pot (or a handgun, if you prefer) which the recipient immediately places in his/her locker before locking it and walking away.

What can the SRO do?

As we read Paragraph 7 of the D-64/City of Park Ridge IGA, the SRO’s duties are strictly limited to those listed on Exhibit C, which expressly purports to be an “exhaustive” explanation of the SRO’s duties. Among the things it appears the SRO cannot do under Paragraph 7 and Exhibit C, however, are: (1) question either student about what the SRO saw; and (2) ask the locker-holder to open the locker – at least not unless and until the SRO first obtains the school principal’s consent and direction, “absent exigent circumstances.”

Is a bag of pot, or a handgun, sitting in a locked student locker an “exigent circumstance[ ]”? We don’t see that term defined in the IGA, so we assume it would be given its customary and ordinary meaning, which Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines as: “requiring immediate aid or action · exigent circumstances.”

And, taking it one step further, Exhibit C states that “absent exigent circumstances,” conduct such as one student’s transferring pot or a handgun to another who locks it in his /her locker, is not to be considered a “criminal law issue[ ]” but, instead, a “school discipline issue[ ] to be solely handled by School officials.”

Given Supt. Laurie Heinz’s repeated insistence that Lincoln’s and Emerson’s discipline issues are no different than those of schools in other suburban districts (per a 02.22.2018 Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article), we have to wonder just what kind of police-like conduct by the SRO – toward the pot (or the handgun) or toward the students involved with them – would the principals who kow-tow to Heinz consent to or direct.

If one wants to read Exhibit C literally – because, of course, it’s meant to be “exhaustive” in circumscribing what SROs can and cannot do – we see nothing that would authorize the SRO to actually defend students, teachers and administrators from the actions of an active-shooter student.

As if to play directly into Heinz’s “move along, nothing to see here” approach to discipline issues, as well as into Chief Kaminski’s approach to getting an extra officer or two on his Department’s payroll by having D-64’s taxpayers picking up part of the tab, check out the anti-transparency/anti-accountability provision in Exhibit C that requires the SRO to keep “an activity log documenting his/her education, resource and security activities” – BUT which the District will receive only “upon request”; and a summary of which the District “may, at its option,” share with the taxpayers.

Or not.

If this SRO program were totally legit, the SRO’s activity log would be sent to the District and published on the District’s website (with student names, if any, redacted for privacy reasons) on a weekly basis, so that parents of Lincoln and Emerson students, along with the taxpayers who are footing the bill for this seeming boondoggle, would know what the SROs are doing on an almost real-time basis.

But you can bet that kind of transparency and accountability for this half-baked (i.e., four hour/day, 2 day/week) initiative is the absolute last thing either Heinz or Kaminski want, which is why Borrelli and his Board bobbleheads won’t insist upon it; and which is why the District’s attorneys who want to remain in that role will gin-up an excuse on which Borrelli, Heinz and the Bobbleheads can fall back.

Because that’s the way things are done at D-64. And that’s why the serious business of education is taking a back seat to all this faux-security.

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10 comments so far

What is wrong with these people that they have to keep everything secret, or secret at their option? It’s so frustrating that everything needs to be hidden from us taxpayers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the less the taxpayers know, the less ability they have to hold their representatives accountable for their incompetence.

Nicely done, D64 Supt. and Board. Run a “pilot” program but hide the data from the parents and non-parent taxpayers so we’ll have no idea what benefits, if any, the SROs are providing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We already know that benefits the SROs will be providing: All sorts of wonderful benefits that anybody who has encountered them can see and feel, making the pilot program an unqualified success that justifies making it a permanent program.

This is exactly the way things are done in D64 based on individual meetings I’ve had with both Dr. Heinz and the principal of Washington Elementary. I just finished reading the PR Advocate story where a consultant found that Special Ed services to children “declined” over the past two years. Of course Borelli, Heinz, and Sotos disagreed with some findings why wouldn’t they! I moved back to PR so my children could get an excellent education I am now considering at least moving out of the Washington boundary and perhaps PR all together based on D64, the pathetic school board, and all the sheeple who don’t have the guts to stand up and do something about this mess.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want “an excellent education” for your kids you might as well leave now, because until the D-64 administrators and Board are willing to admit that the quality of education “ain’t what it used to be” it will never get better. And the folks running D-207 may be even more clueless and manipulative than the folks at D-64, which is why they continue to say nothing as Maine South’s rankings spiral downward.

This is “trial program” that includes no valid measurement plan for assessment. That is not a trial. The board and Heinz are directly ignoring guidelines (including those provided by the law firm they used our tax money to pay for advice) that call for mandatory public reporting. The public deserves to know the number and types of incidents that occur — (including SRO questioning of students), the categories of students involved in SRO activities (disability status, etc), the number of resulting disciplinary actions, the number and type of complaints filed. This should be publically available data (with names and identifiers redacted). There is no accountability or transparency in D64. We need change.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have needed change at D-64 – and D-207 – for more than the last decade that those schools have been in decline while the administrators and board members have been in denial.

As we’ve said before, this SRO program is just a warm-and-fuzzy for Heinz and the D-64 Board that gives Chief Kaminski another reason to hire another sworn officer, or more.

Why were Biagi and Sanchez not at the meeting?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unless they were taken hostage by ISIS, we would assume that they would have told “Who’s The Boss?” or “I’m The Boss!” Didn’t one of them say at the beginning of the meeting why Biagi and Sanchez weren’t there?

Why doesn’t someone look at the Eckl report re: the police department for a read on the department’s interactions with youth. And they want to put these people in our middle schools?

EDITOR’S NOTE: In fairness, the Ekl Report about the police department is a decade old and several of the subjects of that report are no longer with the department.

We’ve thought about packing up and leaving however have decided instead to voice our displeasure to Heinz and Daly on multiple occasions and a school board member on one occasion. We’ve also discussed our concerns about school and district leadership with other families who while they have concerns are convinced nothing will ever change under Heinz. People need to go to school board meetings and get off their butts and vote at the next school board election. Changes can happen if people give a damn but ain’t gonna be easy, this is worth fighting!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good for you! That’s an OUTSTANDING attitude and we applaud it because that’s what we’ve been trying to do, in our own way, for the last decade.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want “an excellent education” for your kids you might as well leave now, because until the D-64 administrators and Board are willing to admit that the quality of education “ain’t what it used to be” it will never get better.

Could not agree more!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Great…now what do you intend to do about it?

When is a cop not a cop? When he or she is a school counselor with a gun and a badge. How stupid is that?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pretty stupid.

Park Ridge Concerned Homeowners has a post by Ginger Pennington pointing out problems with D-64’s underperforming SPED program, and both her post and the comments are pretty damning. Meanwhile, the Board and Admin. diddle themselves silly about SROs.

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