COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) –Columbus City Schools is adding safety and security personnel ahead of the traditional school year starting, in three weeks.
According to Chris Ward, the district’s Director of Safety and Security, there will be an additional 20 members on his team this year, bringing the total to 104.
“Anything that we can do to help students succeed in the classroom, that is what we want to do,” he said. “Having additional support staff — security staff in our school buildings, I think makes everyone feel a little bit safer.”
The addition of the staff comes a little more than a year after the contract between the district and the Columbus Division of Police, which put school resource officers in high schools, expired.
Ward said the extra staff is not being brought in to make up for those officers not being there.
“The police in our school buildings served a different role than our safety and security personnel, and so we’re not replacing one for the other,” he said.
Ward told NBC4 the plan to bring on additional safety and security staff was put together, in 2018, as part of a five-year strategic plan.
With regard to the school resource officers, a district spokesperson provided a statement which reads, in part:
“We have a strong partnership with CPD, but the use of school-based officers in our buildings is still under discussion. The Board wants to take the time to rebuild the relationship in a meaningful way that includes creating space for open dialogue in safe settings to determine the right type of formalized partnership for our students, staff, and community at a pace that makes sense.”
A spokesperson for CPD said he anticipates conversations about this happening between the department and the school board.
Ward said police will still have a role in keeping the district’s schools safe.
“If there are situations where it involves law enforcement or the assistance of law enforcement, our school staff, our school security officers, our building administrators will reach out to law enforcement and let them know that we need their assistance,” he said.
“There will still be a role for law enforcement when it comes to assisting with Columbus City Schools’ safety.”