- Stafford County Public Schools
- Memorandum of Understanding
MOU Text Version
Memorandum of Understanding Between THE STAFFORD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND THE STAFFORD COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
The School Board of Stafford County d/b/a Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) and the
Stafford County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) hereby enter into the School-Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) to foster relations of mutual respect and understanding in order to build a positive and safe school environment. The parties agree the vast majority of student misconduct can be best addressed through classroom and in-school strategies. The parties acknowledge that students are generally less mature and responsible than adults; they often lack the maturity, experience, perspective and judgement to recognize and avoid choices that could be detrimental to them; and they are more susceptible to outside pressures than adults.
All responses to school misconduct should be reasonable, consistent and fair, with appropriate consideration of mitigating factors and of the nature and severity of the incident. Students should receive appropriate redirection and support from in-school and community resources prior to the consideration of suspension, expulsion, or involvement with law enforcement.
Brooke Point High School
North Stafford High School
Colonial Forge High School
Stafford High School
Mountain View High School
H.H. Poole Middle School
A.G. Wright Middle School
Rodney Thompson Middle School
Dixon-Smith Middle School
Shirley C. Heim Middle School
Edward E. Drew Middle School
T. Benton Gayle Middle School
Stafford Middle School
Early Childhood Education Centers
(Head Start): North Star and Rising Star
Margaret Brent Elementary School
Anthony Burns Elementary School
Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School
Falmouth Elementary School
Conway Elementary School
Garrisonville Elementary School
Ferry Farm Elementary School
Hampton Oaks Elementary School
Grafton Village Elementary School
Moncure Elementary School
Hartwood Elementary School
Rockhill Elementary School
Park Ridge Elementary School
Stafford Elementary School
Rocky Run Elementary School
Winding Creek Elementary School
Widewater Elementary School
Phoenix Center for Innovative Learning
The partnership is intended to facilitate effective, timely communication and coordination of efforts for both parties- SCPS and SCSO. The purpose of this Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) is to establish a mutually beneficial framework that both schools and law enforcement can work within to achieve shared goals.
The primary goals of the SLEP are 1) promote a positive and supportive school climate and 2) to create and maintain safe and secure school environments.
To promote positive and supportive school climates, the partnership will collaborate to increase law-related education, expand school safety and crime prevention efforts, reduce conflict, and support effective interventions for students.
To create and maintain safe and secure school environments, the partnership will collaborate to reduce and prevent crime, violence, victimization, and fear in and around schools, and minimize student involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Evaluation of the School-Law Enforcement Partnership
Measurable objectives of the SLEP shall be developed jointly using school discipline, crime, and violence data, school climate survey data, and other data deemed to be relevant. Progress towards achieving objectives shall be jointly reviewed at least annually by SCPS and scso.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARTNER ORGRANIZATIONS
Responsibilities of Stafford County Sheriff's Office
The Stafford County Sheriff's Office will designate a point of contact between the SCSO and SCPS. The point of contact will address any operational and administrative issues and will serve as a consultant for school safety and security issues including assessments and critical incident response planning. The designee will maintain a working knowledge of school rules, regulations, and laws regarding student safety and conduct. The designee will establish and maintain effective relationships with school personnel at the division and school levels.
Selection, assignment, scheduling, training, supervision, and evaluation of school resource officers (SROs) will be the responsibility of the SCSO in collaboration with SCPS. However, each of these actions will take into account identified needs and conditions of the schools. The SRO will remain at all times under the control, through the chain of command, of the law enforcement agency.
Selection and Assignment of the SRO: Selection of the SRO is the most critical aspect of the program. Commanders shall select deputies who have demonstrated the ability, interest, and skills necessary to work with youth, school staff, and the public. The following criteria should be considered by commanders when selecting deputies for the program:
Ability to work with diverse groups.
Ability to work cooperatively in a non-law enforcement environment with limited direct supervision.
Knowledge of Sheriff's Office policies that pertain to juveniles and schools.
Demonstrate conflict-resolution skills
Creative problem solver
Knowledge of juvenile law, procedures and appropriate community resources
Ability to effectively provide instruction to youths
Training of the SRO: Deputies selected for the SRO program, will receive the following training if not already certified:
Mental Health Specific Training and Crisis Intervention Training in accordance with established and certified state standards
Cultural Diversity and Implicit Bias Training
Biased Based Police Training
SRO Training in accordance with certified state standards
Mandatory Reporting to Law Enforcement under Virginia law
Restraint and Seclusion in the School Setting
Disability Awareness Training
Relevant State and Federal Laws Governing Public Schools
School and Personal Liability Issues
Security Awareness in the School Environment
Disaster and Emergency Response
Mediation and Conflict Resolution (including De-Escalation Techniques)
Student Behavior Dynamics, including current child and adolescent development and brain research
Restorative Justice/Practices Training
Interviewing, Questioning, and Interrogating Students in the School Setting
To the extent possible, the SCSO will ensure that the SRO receives relevant training prior to or within 60 days of assignment in a school and ongoing joint training with school administrators. (Certain trainings are subject to availability by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DOS)). The training should be aligned with the SLEP and DCJS curriculum and in consultation with SCPS.
In developing and implementing law enforcement policies and practices that may affect the schools, SCSO will consult with and take into consideration the views of SCPS and the school community.
Responsibilities of Stafford County Public Schools
It is the responsibility of school administrators to facilitate effective communication between the SRO and school staff and to support the goals of the partnership.
Each school with an assigned SRO will provide work area(s) for the SRO that allow access to technologies, private interviewing of several persons, and locking storage space for securing physical evidence.
SCPS will handle discipline within the school disciplinary process without involving the SROs. SCPS polices, administrative guidance, training, and ongoing oversight will clearly communicate that school administrators and teachers are responsible for the school discipline and that law enforcement is not to be involved in disciplinary action. SCPS is responsible for communicating the goals and role of the SRO to all school administration, staff, and students.
SCPS will ensure that school administrators with an assigned SRO will receive relevant training when possible. The training should be aligned with the SLEP and DOS curriculum and in consultation with SCSO.
SRO Roles and Responsibilities
SROs will be considered active members of their assigned schools. The SRO facilitates the effective delivery of law enforcement services and assists with matters related to safety, security, and the exchange of information.
As a general practice, unless there is a clear and imminent threat to public safety, requests from school staff for SRO or other law enforcement assistance are to be channeled through a school administrator.
SROs' duty schedules should be organized to provide coverage throughout the school day, which may vary by school. SROs provide a visible deterrent to crime and shall be visible patrolling the exterior and interior grounds.
Additionally, SROs should assist school administrators in developing school crisis, emergency management, and response plans. They will work with administrators in problem-solving to prevent crime and promote safety in the school environment. SROs are expected to collaborate with school administrators and other school personnel to support positive school climates that focus on resolving conflicts, reducing student engagement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and diverting youth from courts.
SROs serve multiple roles in schools. The roles are interrelated but all are carried out with the aim to contribute to schools safety and security and to promote positive and supportive school climates. Key roles are:
Law Enforcement Officer
The SRO's primary role in schools is a law enforcement officer. SROs assume primary responsibility to requests for assistance from administrators and coordinating the response of other law enforcement resources to the school. SROs should work with school administrators in problem solving to prevent crime and promote safety in the school environment. SROs should also collaborate with school personnel to reduce student engagement with the juvenile justice systems and divert students from the courts when possible.
SROs shall strive to assist with presentations for school personnel on law related topics such as law enforcement practices, changes to relevant laws, crime trends, crime prevention, school safety strategies, and crisis response procedures. SROs may also deliver law-related education with students using lessons/curricula approved in advance by the SRO Supervisor. In all cases, responding to incidents or conducting investigations will take precedence over delivery of presentations.
Informal Mentor and Role Model
Students often seek approval, direction, and guidance from adults in the school setting about various problems. Through formal and informal interaction with students, SROs serve as informal mentors and role models for students. SROs are expected to communicate clearly to students about acceptable and unacceptable behavior, to set a positive example in handling stressful situations and resolving conflicts, to show respect and consideration for others, and to express high expectations for student behavior. Students who may need additional assistance shall be referred to a school-based resource.
School Administrator Roles and Responsibilities
Consistent with Virginia Standards of Accreditations (2000), Section 8 VAC 20-131210, "the school administrator is recognized as the instructional leader of the school and is responsible for effective school management that promotes positive student achievement, a safe and secure environment in which to teach and learn, and efficient use of resources." (Section A). 'The school administrator also ensures the school division's student code of conduct is enforced and seeks to maintain a safe and secure school environment." (Section B.2) Additionally, consistent with Section 8 VAC 20-131260.C.3, the school administration ensures "a written procedure, in accordance with guidelines established by the local board, for responding to violent, disruptive or illegal activities by students on school property or during school-sponsored activity."
School administrators should review the SLEP MOU with SROs and establish school specific operational and communications procedures to support the goals of the SLEP.
Differentiating Disciplinary Misconduct from Criminal Offenses
School Administrators and teachers are responsible for school discipline. Although SROs are expected to be familiar with the SCPS "Code of Student Conduct", the rules of individual schools, and their application in day-to-day practice, SROs should not be involved with the enforcement of school rules or disciplinary infractions that are not violations of law.
Consequences of student misconduct should be effective, developmentally appropriate, and fair. Instructional and social-emotional interventions should help students learn from their mistakes and address root causes of misconduct.
The SLEP shall operate in a manner to ensure children with disabilities receive appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.
The release of student records is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232g. "School officials" may access and disclose student records only authorized by FERPA.
When appropriate, and to the extent that the law allows, SCPS should notify SROs of any special needs of a student involved in a school-based infraction that is not routine discipline, in order to assist the SRO in recognizing and accommodating behaviors that may be manifestations of the student's disability.
Consent Access. An SRO or other law enforcement officer may have access to a student's education records with written consent of the student's parent/guardian or of the student if the student is age 18 or older.
SRO Access. For the purpose of access to student records, SROs are considered "school officials" as set forth in 34 CFR §99.30(B) and may be provided student information without parental/guardian permission (or permission from students 18 or older) as needed when performing school security duties that are strictly related to the operation of the school division. SROs agree not to share the information with any third-party, such as the Sheriff or the Commonwealth's Attorney. In addition, SROs shall not use their access to education records for purposes of ordinary law enforcement activities or those crimes that occur off school grounds and unrelated to the school environment.
SRO Supervisors shall have access to directory information for all students in the school division. SROs shall have access to information on students in their assigned schools that include directory information and additional items needed to carry out their duties, such as class schedules, as approved by the school administrator.
Emergency Situations & Health and Safety Exception. The school division may disclose education records "in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individuals." In making this determination, the school division may take into account the "totality of the circumstances" pertaining to a threat. If the school division determines that the threat is an "articulable and significant" threat, it may disclose the education records to any person whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individuals.
SRO Redisclosure of Student Personally Identifiable Information. SRO's are required to comply with the requirements of 34 CFR §99.3(a) governing the use and redisclosure of information from education records.
SRO Disclosure of Law Enforcement Records. SROs may disclose information from law enforcement records/reports for the purpose of ensuring the physical safety and security of people and property in schools and/or enforcement of laws. SROs may share police report information with school administrators but not the physical report itself. Because law enforcement records are not student records, they are not subject to the disclosure restrictions of FERPA.
Investigation, Questioning and Custodial Interrogations
Casual Interactions. This section shall not apply to casual conversations between students and SROs.
Questioning/lnterviewing of Students. SROs have the authority to question students who may have information about criminal activity (on or off school property).
Exigent Circumstances. Exigent circumstances exist, for instance, when timely information regarding criminal activity will help to prevent injury, death, serious damage to property, the destruction of evidence or the imminent escape of a suspect. (Example: hit and run in a school parking lot). In such circumstances, since time is of the essence, SROs may question students on school property without the presence of a school administrator or notification to parents/guardians. As soon as possible after such questioning, however, the SRO must immediately notify the school administrator. In addition, the SRO and school administrator will ensure that parents/guardians are also notified as soon as possible that questioning of their child occurred on school property.
Nonexigent Circumstances. In such circumstances, the SRO or law enforcement officer shall contact the school administrator prior to questioning/interviewing students at school. The SRO shall coordinate with the school administrator to contact the parent/guardian and to have the parent/guardian in attendance (whether in person or telephonically) when it becomes necessary for any law enforcement officer to interrogate (custodial or not), question, or interview a student on school premises. If the parent/guardian cannot be present for the conference, then then the school administrator shall be present throughout the interrogation/interview.
Custodial Interrogations. In accordance with Va. Code Section 16.1-247.1, prior to any custodial interrogation of a child by a law-enforcement officer, the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian shall be notified of the child's arrest and the child shall have contact with his parent, guardian, or legal custodian. The notification and contact may be in person, electronically, by telephone, or by video conference.
Notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, Va. Code Section 16.1-247.1 also states that, a custodial interrogation may be conducted if:
the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian is a co-defendant in the alleged offense;
the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian has been arrested for, has been charged with, or is being investigated for a crime against the child;
if, after every reasonable effort has been made to contact the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, they cannot be located or refuses contact with the child; or
if the law enforcement officer conducting the custodial interrogation reasonably believes the information sought is necessary to protect life, limb, or property from an imminent danger and the law enforcement officer's questions are limited to those that are reasonably necessary to obtain such information.
General Provisions. The following provisions shall apply to all investigations, questioning, interviews, and interrogations:
The investigation and questioning of students during school hours or at school events should be limited to situations where the investigation is related to suspected criminal activity.
The interviewing of students- whether suspects, victims, or witnesses- shall be conducted in a private setting when feasible. SROs shall take steps to ensure minimal intrusion into the educational experience of students being questioned in the school setting.
Recognizing that a reasonable child subjected to police questioning will sometimes feel pressured to submit when a reasonable adult would feel free to go, as a general rule, the student should not be arrested or placed in custody during the initial interview or interrogation. The student will be informed generally of the purpose of the investigation, warned against selfincrimination in a developmentally appropriate manner, and given an opportunity to present informally his or her knowledge of the facts. If the student wishes to remain silent, to contact his or her parent, guardian, legal custodian, or an attorney, or to end the interview, the questioning should cease and the student's request should be granted unless detaining the student is lawful and reasonable under the circumstances.
SROs are responsible to lead the investigation and questioning of students related to suspected violations of criminal law. SROs shall not be included in questioning students about student code of conduct violations that do not involve criminal activity or risk of harm to self or others. School administrators are responsible for the questioning of students about violations of the code of conduct.
All searches shall be conducted in accordance with federal and state laws, and applicable SCPS and SCSO policies and guidelines, including the principles embodied in this memorandum of understanding.
School Administrator Searches. School officials may conduct searches of student's property and person under their jurisdiction when reasonable suspicion exists that the search will reveal that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school. The standard for search by a school official is reasonable suspicion. To the extent feasible, searches should be conducted in a private area, outside the presence of students and school staff, and with an adult witness present.
SRO Searches. Any search initiated by SRO's or other law enforcement officer shall be based on probable cause and, when required, a search warrant should be obtained. All searches shall be reasonable in scope. All searches of a person should occur in a private area to the extent feasible, outside the presence of students and school staff, with the exception of school administrators, unless there is a clear and immediate threat to physical safety.
SROs shall not become involved in administrative (school-related) searches unless specifically requested by school administrators and at no time shall SROs request that an administrative search be conducted for law enforcement purposes or have the administrator act as their agent. The role of law enforcement in administrative searches shall be limited to providing security or protection, or to handle contraband or weapons found by school staff.
Whenever practical, arrests of a student or staff member should be accomplished outside of regular school hours in order to not disrupt the educational process or school setting. Arrests that must occur during regular school hours or on school grounds should be coordinated through the school administrator to minimize potential disruption. When circumstances do not allow for prior coordination through the school administrator, arrests shall be reported to the school administrator as soon as possible. In addition to any required notification of parents and legal guardians by the SRO taking the student in custody, school administrators or their designees are also responsible for additional notification to parents and legal guardians upon a school-based arrest of their child.
Physical Restraint by School Personnel
As defined by the Virginia Board of Education regulations (8 VAC 20-750-5 et seq.), physical restraint is a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head freely. Physical restraint does not include: briefly holding a student to calm or comfort, holding a student's hand or arm to escort the student safely from one area to another, or the use of incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact or other actions designed to maintain order and control .
Physical restraint by school personnel is used in accordance with Virginia Board of Education regulations and school board policies and regulations. In accordance with school board policy and regulations, every effort should be made by school personnel to prevent the need of restraint. Physical restraint should not be used except by school personnel trained in the use of physical restraint required by SCPS.
School staff will act to deescalate situations that are, or have the potential to cause, disruptions to the school environment and are violations of the Student Code of Conduct. If physical intervention is necessary, the action should be reported promptly to the school administrator and the rationale for the action must be fully documented in accordance with school board policy and regulations.
Physical Intervention by School Resource Officers
An SRO should not be involved in the physical restraint of a student unless there is imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others. As sworn law enforcement officers, SROs may intervene to deescalate situations.
Physical intervention by SROs is undertaken in accordance with policies and operational procedures of the Stafford County Sheriffs Office. If a SRO is involved in the use of restraint or physical intervention, the action must be reported to the school principal and the SRO's supervisor and the rationale for the action must be fully documented.
SROs should be aware of the Virginia Board of Education's policies and guidelines on seclusion and restraint related to local school board policies and will attend training offered by SCPS on their use of seclusion and restraint by school employees. SROs, however, must continue to operate under SCSO policies and state law regarding physical intervention and use of force.
Additionally, SCPS and SCSO SRO will coordinate to ensure that reasonable effort is made to inform the parents on the day of the incident. KEY STATUTORY RESPONSIBILITIES
Reporting by SCSO to SCPS. Pursuant to Section 22.1-279.3:1.B, Code of Virginia, law enforcement agencies are required to notify a division superintendent, a
principal, or a designee when a student in their school commits certain offenses that would be a felony if committed by an adult or would be a violation of the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) and the release status of the student. School superintendents who receive such reports are required to report the information to the principal of the school in which the student is enrolled. As a general practice, SROs should notify the principal as soon as practical of any significant law enforcement events occurring at or in association with the school (e.g., at a school bus stop or off-campus activity, during or outside school hours) whether or not the offense would be a felony if committed by an adult.
Reporting by SCPS to SCSO. Pursuant to Section 22.1-279.3:1.D, Code of Virginia, certain types of criminal activity that come to the attention of the principal or school staff shall be reported immediately to law enforcement. No SRO or school administrator shall be required to file delinquency charges. Schools and SROs shall be encouraged to deal with school-based offenses through graduated sanctions or educational programming before a delinquency charge is filed with the juvenile court. The Principal or their designee is required to notify the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of an incident that was reported to law enforcement.
Reporting by SCPS to Parents/Guardians. Except as may be prohibited by federal law, regulation, or jurisprudence, in accordance with Va. Code Section 22.1-279.3,:1.D the principal shall immediately report the following enumerated acts in clauses (ii) through (iv) of subsection A of Va. Code Section 22.1-279.3:1 that may constitute a criminal offense to the parents/guardians of any minor student who is the specific object of such act:
the assault and battery that results in bodily injury, sexual assault, death, shooting, stabbing, cutting, or wounding of any person, abduction of any person as described in § 18.2-47 or 18.2-48 or stalking of any person as described in § 18.2-60.3 on a school bus, on school property, or at a school sponsored activity; any conduct involving alcohol, marijuana, a controlled substance, imitation controlled substance, or an anabolic steroid on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity, including the theft or attempted theft of student prescription medications;
(iii) any threats against school personnel while on a school bus, on school property or at a school-sponsored activity; (v) the illegal carrying of a firearm, as defined in § 22.1-277.07 onto school property;
In addition, the principal shall report whether the incidents enumerated above have been reported to local law enforcement pursuant to Va. Code Section 22.1-279.3,:1.D and, if the incident is so reported, that the parents/guardians may contact local law enforcement for further information, if they so desire.
Threat assessments shall be conducted in accordance with SCPS policies adopted as required by Section 22.1-79.4, Code of Virginia, and consistent with model procedures and guidelines published by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.
SROs shall serve as members of threat assessment teams and assist in monitoring of subject students as well as determining the need, if any, for law enforcement action.
School Safety Audits
School safety audits will be conducted annually as required by law to assess school safety conditions in schools. SROs, in collaboration with school administrators, will conduct school inspection walkthroughs using a prescribed checklist and will collaborate in other school safety mandates including school crisis and emergency management response planning and preparation.
School Protection Officer Program (SPO)
The Sheriff will designate a program to provide specifically trained law enforcement officers within SCPS at the elementary school level. Selection of the elementary schools participating in the program will be a collaborative decision made by members of the Sheriff's Office, the School Security Task Force, School
Administration and the School Board. School Protection Officers will be tasked with security matters and will not routinely act as a SRO for investigative purposes. SPO's will work closely with the school administrators to identify school security concerns. The evaluation of the SPO program will be a collaborative effort comprised from the Protection Officers, Sheriff's Office supervision and members of the school administration.
REVIEW OF MOU
This MOU should be reviewed annually and amended as necessary to meet the needs and enhance the partnership of the two signatory organizations. This MOU remains in force until such time as either party, with 45 days' notice, withdraws from the agreement by delivering a written notification of such rescission to the other party.
Signed:David P. Decatur, Jr.Sheriff, Stafford County9/21/22Thomas W. Taylor, Ed.D., M.B.A.Superintendent, Stafford County Public Schools9/21/22