Phoenix Union High School District moves forward with plans to hire on-campus officers

The Phoenix Union High School District is deciding on Thursday night whether school resource officers should be placed on school campuses.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 11:06 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Armed officers appear to be on their way back to the Phoenix High School Union District.

Late Thursday night, the school board voted to approve a robust safety plan that accepts the Arizona Department of Education’s grant money to hire six RROs (Regional Resource Officers), passing a motion approving an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Phoenix to utilize its officers. The six schools that applied were: Cesar Chavez, Maryvale, Metro Tech, North, South Mountain and Trevor Browne.

In the meeting that lasted well over six hours, the board passed several portions of Board Member Jennifer Hernandez’s safety plan without the deadlines and oversight committees, with specifics to be discussed in future sessions. Items in the plan include creating a student “bill of rights,” data collection, and confidential complaint processes. The goal is to reduce the social theory of the “school to prison pipeline.”

“PXU is taking important steps towards building a culture of safety that is focused on solutions to the problems we are facing. This board committed to move past reactive approaches to safety, such as more policing in schools,“ said Stephani Espinosa, campaign manager for the activist group known as “School to Liberation.” The group comprises Poder in Action, Puente, and some district board members and staff.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Department of Education recommended grants be approved to hire armed officers for several PXU campuses. It came amid hesitation and tension between the district and state superintendent Tom Horne.

“The decision of the Phoenix Union governing board against armed law enforcement officers not only goes against the recommendation of their own safety committee but is a slap to the leadership of those schools and to the classroom teachers association who called for SROs because safety is needed,” Horne said in a press release sent to Arizona’s Family on May 11.

At the time, Horne cited a recent poll that found 79% of PXU parents support having a police officer on campus. As the state’s head of education, Horne has also recently called for all schools to have uniformed officers.

As Arizona’s Family has reported, the PXU safety committee has been taking feedback about moving forward with school safety while maintaining a relationship with the Phoenix Police Department. School safety has been top of mind for the board after students thought they heard gunshots at Central High School in September 2022, which sparked panic in the among students, staff, parents and administrators.

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