Breaking News
More () »

'There are teacher and parents who are worried to death': Bill would set deadline for SROs in Kentucky schools

The bill is answering a desperate call for some, as nearly 2,600 parents petitioned to bring officers back into JCPS buildings for school safety.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Getting security at every Kentucky school is not a new concept — state leaders did it 2019, and again in 2020. Still, districts like Jefferson County Public Schools remain without SROs.

JCPS choose not to renew their contract with local police two years ago. The district made a plan to create its own in-house security force, but officials said the pandemic delayed opportunities to get feedback.

Three Kentucky state lawmakers based in Louisville say they believe the third time's the charm, hoping districts will have SROs in place by the next school year for students' safety.

"Each time we go into session we try to close that loophole," state Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R) said.

Bratcher pre-filed a bill that would give schools until August 2022 to assign at least one armed officer to every campus, under the condition that necessary resources are there.

"They don't even have an unarmed security guard at every campus, and it's just nuts to me," Bratcher said. "There are teacher and parents who are worried to death."

The bill is answering a desperate call for some, as nearly 2,600 parents petition to bring officers back into JCPS buildings for school safety. Others, like Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim, say the bill does not solve the lack of funding or available officers.

"We really don't have people waiting in line to be hired, so it's an unrealistic deadline," McKim said.

One school board member said she believes the dollar amount won't be an issue for much longer, though. Linda Duncan said the district accepted ESSER funds.

"The President has clearly said that ESSER funds can be used to spend for law enforcement," Duncan said.

Right now, Duncan said there are 21 people working security unarmed for 167 schools. Those officers are not based in schools, meaning there could be wait times for officers to respond to emergencies.

"At some point, I'm afraid that response won't be there when we need them," Duncan said.

JCPS spokesperson Renee Murphy said the district is still getting community feedback on next steps, saying there's no timeline. Bratcher said he does not understand the hold up.

"I think that they don't have the will to follow the state law," Bratcher said.

Bratcher said when the bill is discussed further in January, lawmakers will consider adding money to the mix if that's what it takes.

RELATED: Pandemic delays JCPS in-house police force plan

RELATED: School board members say PRP pellet gun incident highlights need for security at JCPS

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.  

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Before You Leave, Check This Out