CARY — Wake County school board members raised concerns Tuesday about how Raleigh police reacted when they arrested seven Enloe High School students during an out-of-control, water-balloon prank last month.
Before voting Tuesday to renew contracts to keep officers in high schools in Raleigh and Cary for the upcoming school year, Democrat and Republican school board members agreed they need to review their policies in light of incidents such as what happened at Enloe.
After rumors spread on social media that balloons filled with harmful substances would be thrown, additional Raleigh police were present at Enloe on May 16. So far, only water has been found in the balloons.
“I, too, like everyone else, was saddened and upset when we saw the Enloe incident, and the tapes are extremely disturbing for us to watch,” said school board member Tom Benton.
Officers assigned to work in schools are trained to deal with students, Benton said, but things can break down when a number of other officers are called to a school.
School board member Jim Martin said he can relate to parents who’ve had issues with school resource officers. He said that, a few years ago, he was threatened with arrest when he spoke out on behalf of a group of parents at a school.
“I as a school board member, I as a parent, I as a citizen need to know that law enforcement will de-escalate and not escalate a conflict, and we have had situations that we have witnessed where it has gone the other way around,” Martin said.
Wake County school board chairman Keith Sutton suggested that community members be invited to the annual summit the school district holds with local law enforcement agencies concerning the role of officers in schools.
As they review policies, Sutton said they’re considering only allowing in-school suspensions for low-level offenses such as not following a teacher’s orders, skipping class, using inappropriate language, violating the dress code and showing a mobile phone in class.