Two years after Phoenix Union gets rid of school resource officers, its reconsidering the decision

The Phoenix Union High School District is considering the role of police on campus.

The district will be hosting a series of listening sessions. The discussion comes two years after the district got rid of school resource officers.

The district wants to hear from students, their families, staff, and the community on how to move forward.

Parents are welcoming the news about the district's plan to consider the role of law enforcement and police on its school campuses. The Governing Board Student Safety Committee wants to hear directly from the community on how to provide safer learning and working environments for all its students and staff.

"I think it’s good for the parents to come and know what’s going on in their school," said Alma Duarte, a Central High School parent.

Seriena Bennett, another Central High School parent, agrees, saying, "I think it’s great. I think they don’t always take the parents' voices into consideration. Sometimes we find out about these things after the fact, and we get an email or a text. I think it’s great that there’s going to be this opportunity to just meet up and speak our minds."

In addition to this, the district created a safety division at the beginning of the school year, with dedicated staff across all campuses. They’ve also upped their emergency response training, de-escalation strategies, added more social workers, and invested in infrastructure projects including new security cameras, locks, and fencing.

"I’m definitely for more cameras and just that visibility and communicating with parents," Bennett said.

This comes after dozens of school threats on campuses across the state, including a threat at Central High School in September. Parents say the fear of something bad happening is always in the back of their minds.

"When there is something going on, I feel uncomfortable, and sometimes she says, 'Oh I don't want to go to school,' but I mean she has to come to school," Duarte said.

Back in 2020, the district chose to not renew its annual agreement with Phoenix Police to offer school resource officers at their middle and high schools. The decision freed up around $1.2 million, which was allocated to other safety measures.

"We can definitely use money elsewhere, but we need officers. We need security for our kids," Bennett said.

On Dec. 10, the district held its first listening sessions to hear from the campus community, as well as the parents of students.