Group raises concern with Orange County’s plan for increased officers in schools

The group said that it helps promote a school to prison pipeline

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – On Tuesday, the Orange County School Board is set to approve a proposed budget that includes more than a million-dollar increase in school safety.

A local activist group said that it is pushing for that money to go elsewhere.

With more law enforcement on campus, the group said that it helps promote a school to prison pipeline.

Christopher Furino works as the education organizer for Central Florida Jobs with Justice. He said that his coalition has spoken with several Orange County school board members, urging them not to increase the school policing budget.

“Having more SRO’s in the schools for us actually increases the number of students who get arrested for things that are actually typical teenage behavior,” said Furino.

Furino said that he would like to see more money spent on counseling and mental health services for students.

“A really well trained mental health counselor or social worker or someone else who could help actually find out, you know what is it that is the real cause of the problem you’re experiencing and how can we meet your needs,” said Furino.

Board member Angie Gallo said that she supports law enforcement officers inside schools. She said that she has been collecting data from the district, which shows there were 329 student arrests in the 2018-2019 school year. Last school year there were 183 student arrests, but that number only reflects until March when students transitioned to online learning.

Gallo said she wants to look into better defining into policy when a school resource officer or SRO intervenes with disciplinary actions.

“We do need to look at the disorderly conduct. We do need to make sure there is a delineation between discipline and bringing in an SRO and make sure that we are doing everything that we can to see if there’s maybe areas that we need to do better,” said Gallo.

The budget public hearing is scheduled to take place Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

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