School Resource Officers will be in all schools in 2024-25

Posted April 18, 2024 at 8:11 am

The Clinton County School District, thanks to a collaboration with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, will be able to meet a state mandate by having an SRO (School Resource Officer) in each school facility starting with the 2024-25 school term.
The school board, meeting in special session last Tuesday, April 9, unanimously approved a School Resource Officer Agreement with the sheriff’s office for a one-year period, with the option for renewal of the agreement after the initial year.
All board members were present with the exception of Bobbie Stone, who was absent due to an illness. Also on hand was Clinton County Sheriff Ricky Marcum, two members of his office staff, Randy Jones and Ocie Marcum, and CCHS Principal Kenny Dearborn.
Sheriff Marcum briefly stated his department was glad to be of service to the community to help protect the students and public, noting that with the collaboration with Superintendent Wayne Ackerman, they had put together a plan of action in the agreement.
A discussion did ensue about the protocol for student and staff drug testing brought up by board member Jeremy Fryman, who questioned if students or administrators would be aware if a random drug search was scheduled at a school.
Sheriff Marcum said these things need to be kept silent with a more low-key approach used, but most board members agreed that the superintendent and principal of a school should have some prior notification of such a search.
There were also questions about the chain of command, drug test kits, possible penalties if drugs are found, among other issues.
Superintendent Ackerman noted that if there was probable cause, a search could be conducted on school property.
Principal Dearborn said testing was usually done at the schools for THC levels and punishment usually was placing a student in the alternative classroom.
The principal added that in six years there had been three searches conducted when probable cause was shown, and if necessary, testing would be done by the state police.
Board member Ronald Albertson said he agreed with Fryman, but noted he felt the principal should know in advance, with Ackerman adding, “We have to have some level of trust.”
The sheriff said usually the superintendent and principal would have prior knowledge because intelligence leading to such a search comes from a school source.
It was also noted that although there are no local K-9 units in either law enforcement agency here, one is brought in from a neighboring county, such as Cumberland, and there is no charge for K-9 assistance from area agencies.
Also noted was the fact that the SROs provided by the sheriff’s office would be available to assist the schools during summer school activities as well.
The agreement calls for the sheriff’s office to provide the services of qualified deputies to perform the SRO duties at each designated school during the school calendar year.
The eight-page agreement officially begins on August 1 and includes the scope of duties, clauses for the term of the agreement, administration, confidentiality, background checks, liability/insurance, compensation, vehicles, and miscellaneous provisions.
Board Chairperson Leslie Stockton, following the approval of the agreement, noted it was a welcome relief to the board to have qualified School Resource Officers in place.
A couple of years ago, the Kentucky Legislature passed an “unfunded” mandate requiring all school districts in the state to provide an SRO for each school in their district.
However, many districts across the state, including Clinton County, were unable to meet that requirement due to their budgets and finding qualified, trained applicants to fill the four positions.
The Clinton County School System has four school facilities, but has been functioning in the past months with only two trained SROs.
Since taking office at the beginning of February, Superintendent Ackerman and Sheriff Marcum have been in communication and the district and sheriff’s office put together the SRO agreement in time for it to take effect beginning with the next school year, which begins in early August.
(A more detailed look at the SRO agreement between the school board and sheriff’s office will be published prior to the start of the 2024-25 school year.)