By: Tom Duggan – May, 2008
July 29, 2008 — Following Police Chief John Romero’s issuing of the School Resource Officer (SRO) report detailing an increase in arrests in the District, Superintendent Wilfredo T. Laboy has issued a statement disputing the data in the report:
The Lawrence Public Schools constantly monitors data pertaining to police reports, incident reports and other discipline data to identify areas of concern regarding the provision of a safe school environment.
Included in these data is a tabulation of the police reports provided by the School Resource Officers on school-related police matters. Using the data provided by the Police Department throughout the year, there were only 238 total incidents reported in the District. Although these data do not include information from the last two weeks of school, it is still a vast difference—20% less—than what has been presented in the School Resource Officer Unit Report issued by the Police Department.
The SRO Unit made only a partial copy of the report available to the District prior to sharing it with the public, and did not bring the matter directly to the attention of the Superintendent as requested. Had the Superintendent been given the opportunity to review the data prior to publication, the two offices may have been able to collaboratively address the issues and priorities for school safety.
The Superintendent has asked for a meeting with the Police Chief to review their data, as it is not aligned to the data provided to the school system over the past two years. The District wishes to maintain a collaborative working relationship with the Lawrence Police Department, as having safe school environments is essential for students to learn.
Said Dr. Laboy, “I am concerned about the report released by the Lawrence Police Department, as it does not correlate with the data that we have been compiling from the police reports provided to us at different intervals throughout the school year. We need to understand how these numbers were compiled in order to address any discrepancies in the data with the police department. In order to address this issue, we have requested a meeting with Chief Romero to review the data they have in comparison to the data that we have in the school system.”
It is also important to remember that the increased security at the new LHS Campus has allowed for improved ability to monitor activities and report incidents such as theft or physical altercations, and to quickly and provide police with security camera footage to determine the appropriate course of action. An increased number of incidents reported does not necessarily equate to an increased number of incidents occurring. With greater monitoring throughout the High School campus, the School Resource Officer can more effectively address incidents; whereas the School Resource Officers may not have been able to gather evidence on these types of incidents in the old high school.
This may account for the reported increase in arrests and summons (4 additional arrests and 11 additional summons over 2006-2007 according to the calculations provided by the School Resource Officer Unit).