Promoted officer to leave school

Monitor staff
Published: 5/4/2021 4:44:06 PM

The Concord School District is moving ahead with creating a task force to re-examine the district’s discipline process and the role of the school resource officer, amid news that the current officer will be leaving the position.

Officer Brendan Ryder has been promoted to the rank of detective within the Concord Police Department, according to Chief Bradley Osgood, and will be leaving his current position as school resource officer at Concord High School at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

Interim superintendent Kathleen Murphy announced the impending departure at a Concord School Board meeting Monday, saying that principal Michael Reardon has formed a committee of students, staff and parents to begin the process of screening new candidates for the position.

“The high school folks have always been involved in the process of screening candidates for the position,” Murphy said. “Obviously this person does not work for the school department. The SRO works for the police department, but we work in collaboration on that.”

Many members of the community spoke highly of Ryder at school board meetings in March, including a hearing that was held to discuss whether or not to keep the position. Many who advocated for keeping a police officer in the school cited the positive personal connections Ryder has formed with students and staff.

District officials decided in late March to create an internal task force of staff, parents and community experts to review their student discipline processes. Currently, Murphy said, the district is in the process of forming the task force and determining its membership.

“We want this committee to involve students, staff members, family, community and administration,” Murphy said. “I will be sending out a letter to the community to see if there are any other people who would like to join us on this task force.”

The job of the task force will be to review disciplinary data and the school’s disciplinary system, and then make recommendations on how to improve it, including improving equity for students of color and students with disabilities. The task force will also research the role of the school resource officer and explore possible alternatives, and conduct facilitated community conversations about the district’s disciplinary system. The task force will create a report to submit to the board by Feb. 1, 2022, in time for next year’s budget session.

Murphy said the district has finished collecting the data that will be analyzed by the task force. This will include data on suspensions, detentions and office referrals, but also other information separate from discipline.

“It will also include things like daily attendance, it will also include information like students who are participating in after-school activities as well as co-curricular activities including the sports programs, and student numbers in programs like language programs and AP classes. I think all of that information is really important as we examine this issue,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the business of the task force will proceed as planned, despite Officer Ryder’s upcoming departure.

“We are going to continue whether he is there or somebody else is there. It’s still that position and that’s something you as a board will have to deal with come your budget next fall,” Murphy told school board members Monday.

Last day of schoolJune 18 for Concord

The last day of school for Concord School District will be June 18 this year, the school board decided Monday, two days after the originally-scheduled date of June 16.

The board voted 6-2 to make the last day of school June 18, to make up for two missed days that happened during the year. The first missed day was a snow day Feb. 2, and the other was an “emergency day” declared March 22, when the district did not have enough staff to operate after 95 employees called out sick with vaccine side effects.

The district must maintain at least 180 school days or 990 hours of instruction time for middle and high schools, 945 for elementary schools and 450 for kindergarten in order to meet the state standard for education time. Concord teachers have a contract stipulation to work 183 days, according to Murphy.

“I believe that every day that we have with children is important, and how that looks and what we do with our kids in those last days are important, so as the instructional leader of the school district I always support being with the kids,” Murphy said.

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