ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Ahead of Thursday’s school board vote on whether to move forward with the Round Rock Independent School District’s proposal to create its own police force, some parents are speaking out against the measure, with concerns about racial issues they say haven’t been addressed by the district.
According to Round Rock ISD data, in 2017, African-American students represented just 8.7 percent of RRISD students, but received 33 percent of all discretionary discipline placements.
Parents like Mischia Farrer say they’re concerned those numbers aren’t proportional.
“It’s just really unfair and it makes it hard to feel safe,” said Farrer. “I want my kid to feel safe in school. I don’t want them to feel like they’re afraid. It’s not a prison. It’s a school.”
Representatives from the district acknowledge the data.
“We absolutely understand those concerns,” explained Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, the executive director of communications and community relations for Round Rock ISD.
LaCoste-Caputo says the district superintendent has established an equity taskforce to look into issues like discipline referrals.
“Do we have an outsized number of minority students receiving discipline referrals? And that’s not acceptable if that’s the case,” she said. “We’re doing root-cause analysis to see if those disparities exist and we’re actively addressing this.”
The district currently budgets $2.25 million annually to contract with the Round Rock Police Department, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Community College Police to supply officers at RRISD middle and high schools.
The new district police department is estimated to cost RRISD $2.7 million each year.
“It will be an additional cost, but it’s not a significant additional cost over what we’re already paying,” added LaCoste-Caputo. “We really feel like you can’t put a price on student safety.”
In order to be fully staffed, the district says they need 22 officers at its campuses — two at each of their high schools and one at each middle school.