Toolbox Tuesday!!

Our firm’s Toolbox Training is designed to help school administrators serve students appropriately and safely even in the face of disruptive or even violent behavior. Given that type of behavior, we have to talk about the role of the School Resource Officer (SRO).   Unfortunately, there seem to be quite a few court cases in which SROs are accused of excessive force with students.

In one case from California the student is trying to blame the principal for the SRO’s excessive force, arguing that the principal should have prevented it.  The legal issue revolves around supervision of the SRO. Did the principal have supervisory authority over the SRO?  It wasn’t clear in the record, but the court  allowed the student to amend his pleadings to make the case that the principal had the authority to control the SRO.  The SRO was a city employee, serving as an SRO at the school. The student alleged that the agreement between the school and the city gave the principal supervisory authority, but the pleadings did not adequately explain that.

When SROs are school employees it’s usually pretty clear who has authority. But many schools contract with the city or county for security personnel. It’s important to have your school district attorney review that contract.  

Today’s case is J.M. v. Parlier USD, decided by the federal court for the Eastern District of California on November 10, 2021.  It’s published on  Special Ed Connection  at 80 IDELR 17.

Tomorrow: ugly, ugly facts…..