A discussion on whether to cancel a contract to retain school resource officers in Prince George’s County Public Schools was postponed until Sept. 14.
The 8-6 vote Thursday took about 15 minutes because of some clarification needed to determine if the actual agenda item could be discussed.
When the board’s Operations, Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee met Monday, it broke down the resolution presented by board member David Murray into three parts: cancel a contract with the Police Department for school resource officers, also known as SROs; provide the full board with a report on SRO training; and ask school administrators to amend the budget by $5 million to hire more social workers, mental health professionals and counselors.
The budget committee voted 3-1 Monday to recommend approval to remove SROs, but voted unanimously in favor of the other two items.
Board member Curtis Valentine, a member of the budget committee and the only person who voted against removing SROs, made a motion Thursday to amend the agenda and table it for September.
“There was no clear community or board consensus on canceling [the] contract,” Valentine said in a text message Thursday night. “Change was proposed less than 48 hours before [the full board] meeting. Time will allow for [the] community to analyze impact of canceling or extending contract with data and personal experience of students, parents, educators and administration.”
After two procedural votes and a legal opinion from board counsel Roger Thomas, student board member Joshua Omolola could vote on the SRO agenda item.
Although a student member isn’t allowed to vote on contracts or personnel matters, the board vote only focused on the agenda item: “Removal of School Resource Officers (SROs) from Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).” No specific details about it could be discussed.
Board Vice Chair Edward Burroughs III also pushed for Omolola to be allowed to vote because the school system doesn’t pay the contract. The money is managed by the county and distributed to the county police department and a few municipalities.
Board member K. Alexander Wallace, who chairs the budget committee and abstained from Monday’s vote, changed his previous vote Thursday to have the SRO matter discussed and decided to join others and wait until September. His vote could’ve forced a 7-7 tie and permit the board to discuss it.
The board meets again June 25, but whether some board members will try to place it back on the agenda remains unclear.
“I don’t know why [Wallace] changed his vote,” said board member Belinda Queen, who joined Burroughs, Murray, Omolola and board members Raaeheel Ahmed and Joshua Thomas to discuss the SRO topic Thursday. “Although we are not paying for the contract, we couldn’t discuss what happens if the contract is not renewed. Are we required to have them in the school and to arrest kids? It’s not a problem I have putting it off, but questions just weren’t answered.”