Lane Tech LSC votes to remove police from the school
by BRIAN NADIG
The Lane Tech High School Local School Council at its Aug. 10 meeting voted 9 to 3 to discontinue the school resource officer program at the school.
“There is a real big problem of racism in the school, and it’s exacerbated with … police in this school,” music teacher Javier Payano told the LSC. “The presence of a police officer is traumatizing.”
Principal Brian Tennison also supported the removal of officers. “One student who feels uncomfortable is one too many,” he said.
About 80 percent of the 30 speakers at the meeting spoke in favor of ending the SRO program at Lane Tech, although an earlier survey by the LSC showed that most of the 1,327 respondents voiced support to retain the police officers. About 60 percent of the respondents were parents, who overwhelmingly supported keeping police at the school.
LSC chairwoman Emily Haite, who voted to remove the SROs, said at the start of the meeting that the SROs have not made an arrest at Lane Tech since Tennison became its principal in 2016. She added that removing the officers would not result in additional funds for other resources at the school.
LSC member Patricia O’Keefe voted to retain the officers, adding that some students may feel less safe without the SROs. “The key is to having (police) inside the building,” she said in the event of an active shooter. “Why not have a police officer with a bullet proof vest take the bullet from a shooter.”
Several speakers said that studies have shown that SROs are not an effective deterrent to shootings at schools.
In addition, several alumni recalled that they felt uncomfortable seeing armed officers when they entered or exited the school, and another graduate said that seeing an officer at the school made him uncomfortable due to his undocumented status.
Teacher Miles Comiskey said that “guns do not need to be in our school” and that for many students seeing armed officers is “more reminders” of the “difficult things that happen in our city, (and) I don’t think we need more of that.”
Parent Bob Vanna, who works as a police officer, said that he support keeping the SROs and said that the school can always request a new officer if one is not working out.
On the survey, 59 percent of the students said that they have not had an interaction with an SRO, while 22 percent said their interaction was positive. In addition, 13 percent described their interaction as neutral, and 5 percent said it was negative.