The Dresden School Board Considers Hiring a School Resource Officer

The Dresden School Board met on September 24th to discuss two important issues: how conflict of interest involving a school board member and school board related business should be handled, and whether to pursue hiring a School Resource Officer (SRO). 

The Dresden School Board first held a discussion on how to address conflicts of interest that could arise on the school board. The current policy outlines that those with a conflict of interest are barred from participating in discussions involving the interest and are unable to vote. However, many school board members felt that a member with a conflict of interest should be able to discuss the issue unless they have a direct pecuniary interest. Some school board members felt that even if a member had a conflict of interest, they could provide valuable information on the subject and therefore should still contribute. Other school board members had concerns over the optics of Board business, and felt that members should be as transparent as possible and announce any potential conflict of interest. No decisions were made and these issues surrounding conflict of interest will continue to be addressed by the Dresden School Board at future meetings.

After the first discussion, the school board heard a presentation by Mr. Campbell on hiring a school resource officer. A link to the proposal can be found here and at the bottom of this article. The Dresden School Board and Administration have discussed hiring an SRO twice in the recent past, and had agreed to hire a retired police officer as an Atrium supervisor, but were unable to find any applicants to the position. After a recent security audit, the SRO position was suggested to Hanover High School as a way to improve school safety. According to the proposition, the SRO would be “a school resource officer is a member of the Hanover Police Department who would be permanently assigned to the three NH schools. The individual would be a fully sworn officer but would likely wear a scaled down uniform” (Proposal for School Resource Officer (SRO), Dresden School Board). The SRO would work full-time at Hanover High School or could split their time between Hanover High, Richmond Middle, and Ray Schools. The SRO position is being proposed for several purposes: to improve communication between the schools and emergency services, to help build relationships between the police and the student body, to be able to rapidly respond to emergencies in the school, and to carry out various residency checks (a residency check confirms that a student is living at their listed address).

Some members on the board expressed their interest in hiring the SRO, while others expressed concerns about the position. Some members were concerned that there would be an armed person in the school, that an SRO may dangerously escalate situations involving students with disabilities, and that an SRO might not be an effective way to respond to emergency situations on campus. The SRO discussion will continue at the next Dresden School Board meeting on October 29th

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