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This White Paper argues that a formal governance document is necessary to ensure that law enforcement, school officials, and the communities they serve have a shared understanding of the goals of the SRO program, and that these officers receive the necessary support and training prior to their deployment.6 Absent specific guidelines, SROs may not have a clear understanding of their role within the larger educational context or the rights and needs of the children they are intended to serve; they may inadvertently, and indeed counterproductively, create an adversarial environment that pushes students, particularly at-risk students, out of school rather than engaging them in a positive educational environment. The reputation of law enforcement agencies, the climate of the schools, and, most important, the educational achievement and rights of public school students, suffer as a result. This White Paper identifies specific areas of concern to be addressed in a governance document for SRO programs. In the case of districts that contract with local police departments, these provisions should be set forth in a Memorandum of Understanding; in the case of districts that employ their own police force, they should be set forth in another appropriate format. In either case, the governance document should include language that:

  • Distinguishes between disciplinary misconduct to be handled by school officials and criminal offenses to be handled by law enforcement;
  • Respects the rights of children in school;
  • Ensures transparency and accountability;
  • Defines the role of SROs within the context of the educational mission of schools;
  • Provides minimum training requirements; and
  • Promotes non-punitive approaches to student behavior.

Publication Date



American Civil Liberties Union


New York, NY


Police, Schools, School Resource Officer


Education Law | Juvenile Law | Law | Law Enforcement and Corrections


An ACLU Whitepaper. Also available on the ACLU website, HERE.

Policing in Schools: Developing a Governance Document for School Resource Officers in K-12 Schools