Pollio says the recommendations will provide a more positive learning environment for all schools, staff and students
By Toni Konz Tatman | JCPS Communications
The results of three reviews conducted at Jeffersontown High School over the past two months were released by Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio on Thursday.
The first review was conducted by Dana Collins, an attorney with Middleton-Reutlinger, involving an incident that occurred at Jeffersontown High on Nov. 1 between students and some police officers who had been called to assist at the school.
“After this incident, I made it clear that our plan would be to review this incident and report back on our findings,” Pollio said. “First of all, it’s important to understand that our school resource officers were not involved in the incident. In fact, the report recognizes repeatedly Officer Steve Mattingly’s professionalism and his commitment to students—and he is noted as a positive example of the SRO program.”
However, Pollio said the report also recognizes that while law enforcement may be following their training and protocols, there may be alternative responses better suited for a school setting.
“This report recommends that the district draft and implement new policies and procedures that clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of police and school resource officers in our district,” he said.
Some examples of those recommendations include that JCPS should:
- Consider expanding an explanation of police officers’ responsibilities as well as provide examples of behaviors that should not trigger law enforcement action, which follow guidelines suggested by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Consider providing examples of misdemeanors that SROs may commonly encounter as well as suggestions on de-escalation techniques to avoid student criminal charges.
- Provide further guidance on the execution of law enforcement actions on campus.
- Ensure that SROs know what resources and processes are available for disciplinary action and what issues are meant to be handled by school staff.
- Increase training for SROs and include training for all staff at schools with SROs—clearly outlining the roles of SROs in schools.
- Develop an oversight and review process to ensure SROs are being used appropriately in schools.
- Develop a clear communication structure for contacting outside police, including in schools without SROs.
“I will immediately begin working with my staff to draft recommended policies and update our existing agreements with departments that provide our school resource officers,” Pollio said.
The other two reviews conducted at Jeffersontown High involved a culture and climate audit by an outside expert and a review of systems and structures at the school by Assistant Superintendent Michelle Dillard and a team of JCPS administrators.
The culture and climate audit from Roger Cleveland, president and lead consultant with Millennium Learning Concepts, LLC was conducted in late October and included interviews with staff, students, and parents. It also included observations of 38 classrooms and a survey given to all certified staff at the school.
The audit found three key growth areas for improvement that are focused on systems thinking, consistency and communication, and creating a culturally responsive learning environment, Pollio said.
“In each of those areas, there is a lot of opportunity for overall improvement at the school,” he said. “Simply put, results from the review tell us that across the board, discipline at Jeffersontown High needs consistency and improved structures are needed to create a better learning environment for all students.”
Pollio said Acting Principal Matt Anderson has been provided the report and is implementing the recommendations with the help and guidance of Dillard.
“It’s also important to note that during its review, the audit team recognized initiatives underway at Jeffersontown High that the school is doing quite well,” Pollio said. “For example, the school was commended for its collaborative work to make its new Freshman Academy function effectively.”
The team also noted the school’s strong industry partnerships—which are providing important real-world, project-based learning opportunities for the students at J-town, Pollio said.
Pollio said he wants the district’s “students, parents, and staff to know that this issue was addressed immediately and recommendations will be implemented.”
“At the end of the day, I believe the recommendations will provide a more positive learning environment for our schools, staff, and students moving forward,” he said.