School cops removed from BHS two years ago, despite wishes of most parents

School resource officer

By Guy Page

In the aftermath of the temporary removal of BHS school principal Deb Beaupre for pulling a fire alarm to break up a fight, some people on social media are wondering why this appeared to be her best option – and why it’s her job to break up fights. 

“All I am saying is I do not think pulling the fire alarm was the answer,” said a Facebook commenter on a TV news story. “What I do think is that maybe resource officers should be put back into schools.”

Several commenters stressed that educators are wary of trying to physically stop a fight, fearing  pushback from litigous parents. 

The commenter raises an important issue: where were the Burlington Police Department school resource officers (SROS) – police trained in youth conflict de-escalation – when the altercation occurred? And just how bad was the ‘altercation’ – a fight between two people or a full-blown melee between groups of people? 

Here’s what Vermont Daily Chronicle has learned so far:

  1. There were no school resource officers at Burlington High School. “That was something that was chosen to be removed,” Shannon Trammell, spokesperson for the Burlington Police Department, told VDC this morning. 
  1. Information on the nature and extent of the fight is limited to the scarce details already shared by Beaupre in a school letter (see related story, today). BPD was not a ‘first responder’ to the incident, Trammell said. VDC has contacted the Burlington Fire Department and the BHS administrative office seeking more information.

There weren’t any SROs at BHS when the fight started because in the spring of 2021, the Burlington School District removed them – despite the school’s own poll indicating that most parents opposed the move. The following is excerpted from an April 7, 2021 VDC news story titled ‘Cops Out of Burlington Schools’:

Citing disproportionate arrests of black youth and finding that “members of the BIPOC community have expressed that the mere presence of police in the school is traumatic for them,” the Burlington School District Safety Task Force February 15, 2023 recommended eliminating one School Resource Officer position and housing the remaining SRO at the police station. The Burlington School Board shortly thereafter approved the task force recommendations. 

The remaining SRO may only enter the school for scheduled events or in event of an emergency. Many of the SRO’s traditional educational and community bridge-building duties will be conducted by non-police staff members.

“Black juveniles made up between 31-60% of juvenile SRO arrests across the four school years yet occur at only 16% in the school population,” the Feb. 15 report concludes. “Therefore, despite decreases in arrests and a lower rate of arrests by the SROs compared to non-SRO police, the Black juveniles in the school and the community are still disproportionately arrested.” 

Community support for cutting SRO’s was mixed, the report said. 

On the one hand, “over 1,000 community members attended a city council meeting, asking that the police be completely removed from the schools.” However it also noted a community survey that seemed to show reservations about eliminating SROs from school. “The community survey conducted by the task force showed that 27% of the community thinks they should not be in the schools at all (53% said they should and 20% were unsure). It should be acknowledged that in this survey we had a difficult time reaching the New American community; therefore, the majority of responders (57%) were white parents.”

Following a school shooter scare this month, 153 Plainfield/Marshfield residents signed a petition calling for reinstatement of a school resource officer at Twinfield High School. To date, no action has been taken. 

Categories: Burlington

7 replies »

  1. Can anyone recognize that fighting in school happens, whether white, black, red or yellow? It is not a racial issue it’s a human nature problem. Pat them down and put them in a boxing ring and let them settle it between themselves, without kids cheering them on, and then demand that they nurse each other back to health. PROBLEM SOLVED!

  2. BHS is a complete dumpster fire ignited by Progressives. Why would anyone want to send their kids there? Sure, send them to BHS at your own risk.

  3. We dont need police in schools, there are red “fight alarms” placed conveniently around the building… Didn’t a mass shooter in a school a few years back pull the fire alarm to get all the students to line up outside the school to make them easy targets?
    Brilliant woman…you dont get the sharpest people when your primary hiring criteria is skin melanin content, eh? That goes for BHS Principal all the way up to Vice President of the USA.

  4. Black youth arrested at rates of 31-60%, despite being 16% of the school population? Are they implying racism? Or just that they commit crimes 2x or 3x as the white and yellow youth? I think blacks just commit mor crimes. Just my 2 cents

  5. People with an agendas cite the disproportions that align with their cause as if that’s the whole truth. It isn’t. But they dupe unwary listeners nevertheless. The old adage applies, “figures don’t lie, but liars can figure”.

    Although our first impulse should be to believe the person who professes fear, we should also realize that the profession of fear can be used to manipulate good people. No one should intentionally provoke another’s fear. However there are situations that, for the good of the fearful, the thing that incites their fear, must be brought to bear, such as needles for medications and the dentist drill for cavities. Police presence in school might be fearful for some, but comforting to others. Should we cater to the fearful few, or the good for all?

    On a deeper level, where are the fathers that should be shaping these young people to be peaceful law abiding citizens? The schools are not fitted for this job, only parents. Our society is in a quandary; although we want the stability that comes with having laws in place and people obeying these laws, we’ve rejected the law giver and the only one who can change the hearts of people to want to obey those laws. Human laws are written on shifting sand, the creator’s laws endure the test of time.

  6. When you have a local high school stat of 16%population:60% arrests, and a national violent crime stat of 13%:90%, local shootings at about 97% black, I don’t think the problem is who is being “disproportionately arrested” anymore god forbid….