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Bill would help Pa. schools retain resource officers

April 26, 2012

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — State Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin, recently announced he has introduced legislation that would help school districts in Pennsylvania be better equipped to retain school resource officers, including municipal police officers and probation personnel who are experienced in juvenile issues.

Under some interpretations of current state law, school districts are not permitted to use taxpayer funds to contract with local police departments or county probation offices in order to have officers keep regular hours and interact with school personnel, according to a news release.

Rock’s legislation, House Bill 2316, would correct this glitch, allowing schools to utilize their regular funds to have the professional presence of probation and law enforcement personnel on their premises.

In 2010, the Waynesboro Area School District eliminated both its probation officer and school resource officer positions. This was done because the school board’s legal counsel advised that it was not permissible to retain the officer with taxpayer money.

The school resource officer position was held by Waynesboro Police Officer Travis Carbaugh, who had a great rapport with many of the students and had proven results in the short time he was there, the news release stated.

Waynesboro Area School Board member Rita Daywalt said in the news release that Carbaugh’s job as SRO was multifaceted.

“He not only served as a law enforcement officer, but as a teacher and a mentor as well,” Daywalt said.

During Carbaugh’s tenure as the school resource officer, middle school incidents requiring police involvement decreased from 57 in the previous year to about 20, the news release stated.

Rock credited Daywalt with bringing this issue to his attention.

“During the 2008-09 school year, there were as many as 31 arrests in Waynesboro schools, but with Officer Carbaugh present during 2010, that number was essentially reduced by half,” Rock said in the release.

“With more than 4,200 students in the school district, it is essential educators and students have a reliable professional who can instill order if need be, and more importantly mentor students so that a heavy hand is rarely needed,” he said.

Rock previously served as a Waynesboro Area School Board member.

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— Jennifer Fitch

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