MOUNT DESERT — The Mount Desert school committee decided Feb. 16 to take no action on the issue of having a police officer at the school as a “school resource officer” (SRO) pending the recommendations of the school system’s policy committee.
Although the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Superintendent Marc Gousse and Police Chief Jim Willis calls for Officer Tim Bland to be at Mount Desert Elementary as SRO a half-day a week, he has been there in that role only once since the agreement was signed last September, according to Principal Gloria Delsandro.
And given Bland’s current limited availability, he is unlikely to be there much if at all this spring.
Delsandro said she has talked with the school’s staff about the SRO and asked them to provide anonymous feedback.
“Twenty-four who responded were in favor. Three were not. One was uncertain,” she said.
Delsandro said she and Bland also met with eighth-grade students, explained his role as SRO and answered their questions. She said the anonymous feedback the students provided after that meeting was overwhelmingly positive.
Two community members, Patty Ryan and David Westphal, attended the school committee meeting and spoke against having an SRO. Ryan said one of her concerns is that the police officer may see a student misbehaving and then carry that memory into the community.
“Is that child then a target?” she asked. “Is that child then profiled as a troublemaker?
“An officer in a school is really in an overseer (role), and that is not the position of the police in a democratic society,” she said.