State investigators are still looking into the case of a police officer who slammed a Rolesville High School student to the floor, as community leaders meet Thursday to discuss school policing in Wake County.
National attention has been placed on school policing since a nine-second video was posted on Twitter on Jan. 3 showing Rolesville Police Officer Ruben De Los Santos picking up student Jasmine Darwin and dropping her to the floor.
Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes said she organized Thursday’s meeting on the school-to-prison pipeline in direct response to the video. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at Rolesville Town Hall, 502 Southtown Circle in Rolesville.
“It breathed new life into the conversation about whether we should have school resource officers in our schools and, if we do, what should be their role,” Holmes said in an interview Wednesday.
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In addition to Holmes, other panel participants include Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, Wake County school board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler, Wake County Juvenile Court Judge Craig Croom and Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles.
James Ford, a former North Carolina Teacher of the Year, will moderate the panel.
Questions still exist about what happened six weeks ago at Rolesville High School.
Police say De Los Santos was breaking up a fight. But an attorney for Darwin’s family says the student had been trying to break up a fight between two other girls when she was “slammed on the ground like a rag doll” and suffered a concussion.
Rolesville Police Chief Bobby Langston said Wednesday that De Los Santos remains on paid administrative leave while the State Bureau of Investigation continues its investigation.
Some activists have called for removing school resource officers and replacing them with more counselors. Harrison has urged the school system to create its own police force.
“Safety is a top priority for our students and our educators,” Holmes said. “The purpose of this conference is to find a balance between school safety and ensuring that all students have access to a quality education.”
Johnson-Hostler said she’ll talk Thursday about ongoing efforts such as a program where students who are between 16 and 18 years old and are accused of committing nonviolent misdemeanors at school are diverted from adult criminal court.
But Johnson-Hostler said she most of all wants to hear what other people have to say Thursday.
“These are all folks with very different perspectives,” she said. “Solutions don’t come unless we’re all in communication with each other.”