A School Resource Officer (“SRO”) is a law enforcement officer employed

by local law enforcement agencies to provide security to public schools. As

a result of fatal and highly publicized school shootings such as Columbine

and Parkland, SROs have become a fixed aspect of many school communities.

There are tens of thousands of SROs patrolling the halls of Virginia’s

public elementary and secondary schools every year. Despite their intended

purpose to keep students safe and prevent crime, SROs too often contribute

to the school-to-prison pipeline. When SROs are brought into the classroom

to address “disruptive” behaviors, students are at an increased risk of being

pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system. Overreliance on

SROs and referrals to law enforcement to handle disruptive classroom behavior,

arguably typical adolescent behavior, affects all students and risks

their exposure to the school-to-prison pipeline. There has long been demands

to remove police from school, and this movement was reignited in the summer

of 2020 in the wake of mass protests against law enforcement. Many localities,

including several in Virginia, decided unanimously to end their contracts

with law enforcement, though thousands of SROs remain stationed in

schools across the country. This paper proposes several reforms to the role

of the SRO to reduce the risk that a student’s encounter with an SRO will

introduce them into the school-to-prison pipeline. Suggested reformations include

prohibiting SROs from carrying weapons; revising policies to limit

SRO involvement in routine disciplinary matters; and ensuring appropriate

training to create positive interactions between students and their SROs.