City of Alexandria removes SROs from schools, uses funding for mental health resources

Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — The Alexandria City Council voted to eliminate School Resource Officers (SROs) from its public schools.

The motion made by City Council on Tuesday night allocates nearly $800,000 from the Alexandria City Public School (ACPS) budget to mental health resources, a change the School Board wasn’t prepared to make just yet.

School Board member, Cindy Anderson, spoke on behalf of the Board at the meeting, calling the decision by the City Council a “stab in the dark” with no effort to get input from the community. She urged Council members to pause the decision.

“Before we remove that level of expertise from our school buildings, we should have a full, well thought out, comprehensive plan for how we will replace those specialized skills,” said Anderson.

City Mayor Justin Wilson disagreed with the move to remove SROs but agreed with the decision to use the funding to bring more mental health specialists to the school district.

“In the end, we just had a disagreement. Again, I disagree with how we got here, I disagree with the decision, but you know, we’re in a business where majority rules and that’s where we’re at. So, I’ll support the motion because I think it’s a reasonable approach for allocating these funds,” explained Wilson.

Despite the opposition, Police Chief Don Hayes said the school will still be safe even without the presence of SROs.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure our students — and they are our students — have a safe environment to learn in,” said Hayes.

The $800,000 will allow the school to hire more therapists, a human service specialist and a public health nurse.

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