Williamson Co. and Round Rock ISD at odds on how to staff schools with police officers

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY (KXAN) — As more families move out to the suburbs of Austin, Round Rock is trying to figure out the best way to keep its growing number of students safe at their schools.

Right now, the Round Rock Independent School District’s school resource officers are from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, the Round Rock Police Department and Austin Community College.

The district’s current agreement with the Williamson Country Sheriff’s Office expires in June 2021; however, relying on the sheriff’s deputies after that appears unlikely.

No discussion, no vote

Tuesday, the Williamson County Commissioners Court took up an agenda item that would’ve committed the county to supplying about two dozen sheriff’s deputies to RRISD from Fall 2021 to Spring 2026.

The motion to adopt the agreement didn’t receive a second, which meant it didn’t get a discussion or a vote. The district did offer to pay the county.

“I have to accept their ruling and their inaction,” said Charles Chadwell, RRISD Board of Trustees President.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell has said in previous meetings, “This is not how county and county government was designed to operate. You are really asking for us to be a fleet of Teslas when we originally were a handful of pick up trucks helping out.”

What’s next for RRISD

“We’ve been looking at all the other campuses, districts across the state,” said Chadwell.

Since Spring 2018, the district has been exploring different options.

The process has included trying to figure out how to create its own police department.

RRISD has also formed a task force and met with parents to gather their input.

Chadwell said, at this time, creating the district’s own police force seems to be the main option.

The application to start the force has been filed with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

“That process is going forward no matter what,” Chadwell explained. “So even if we do that or don’t do that, that’s in progress, so that’ll help us.”

He added that the board can still look at combining resources from the Sheriff’s Office and the Round Rock Police Department. They’ll discuss the wide ranging options at their meeting Thursday.

“We’re going to continue to be committed to safety for our students, the staff and any visitors that come on campus, just like we’ve always been,” Chadwell said.

Tiffanie Harrison, a member of the safety task force said, “It’s been a really long process, but I think our children deserve due diligence. Safety and security is huge, and we want to make sure our children are safe.”

She added, however, the conversation should be larger than just about policing.

“Bullying, mental health, institutional racism need to be dealt with,” Harrison said. “I want to prioritize their mental health. That’s a struggle. The way to the world is hard. The pressure is difficult. So I want to make sure that they have support in terms of social emotional learning.”

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