VanHoose Education Center

Jefferson County Public Schools will not have SROs when students head back to class next week. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

Jefferson County Public Schools will not have school resource officers when students head back to class next week after the school board failed to pass contracts with local police agencies.

The school board split 3-3 on three contracts for police officers to be stationed in JCPS for the 2019-20 school year. Since it was a tie, the contracts failed and the officers will not be in schools at the start of the year.

Linda Duncan, Chris Brady and chairwoman Diane Porter voted in favor of contracting for 11 officers from Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Shively Police and Jeffersontown Police. Vice chairman Chris Kolb, Corrie Shull and James Craig voted against.

Additionally, Louisville Metro Police Department pulled its 17 SROs — the remaining officers stationed in schools last year — back to patrol due to citywide budget cuts.

The vote signals a win for some activists who have routinely spoken against police presence in schools since police intervened in a student fight at Jeffersontown High School in November 2017. Tuesday night, six of the seven speakers in the public comment section spoke against the use of SROs, who are sworn police officers.

They said the presence of police does not make schools safer — something Kolb said is backed up by research. Police can have an especially negative impact on students of color, furthering the school-to-prison pipeline.

But proponents argue the district needs to do everything in its power to protect its students in a world of mass shootings.

“I can’t imagine leaving our schools defenseless,” Duncan said.

Last week, JCPS shared how it plans on transitioning to an in-house security team by the 2020-21 school year — ending their use of SROs. In the coming weeks, the district expected to bring to a vote a plan that would repurpose nine security monitors as SROs.

Not having SROs could expedite that process, something Superintendent Marty Pollio said would take “significant” time and money to implement. Multiple board members, including Brady, who voted in favor of SRO contracts, have said they preferred an in-house team to allow for additional oversight for the positions.

This article may be updated.