“If a city provides a school resource officer for a school, who bears responsibility when that officer is absent and something goes wrong?”

 In a recent blog posting, Education Week reports on litigation currently occurring in a school in California. After a school shooting occurred, leaving a student critically injured, the parents of the injured student sued the district for negligence. The district, in turn, sued the city as the school resource office provided to the school by the city was not present when the shooting occurred.

This circle of litigation raises some interesting legal, and security questions: Did the city have a responsibility to provide a different SRO if the assigned officer was unable to be at the school? Would the presence of the SRO really have prevented the student from being shot? What sort of agreements or Memorandums of Understanding should be in place when school leaders and city officials share and/or designate responsibilities for school policing?

More importantly – what sort of agreements, understandings, and procedures are in place in your school or district in regards to the role of school-based police officers? A conversation between school leaders and law enforcement officials before an event might have allowed for cooperation, rather than litigation, between the district and the city.