Memo of Understanding with the Alexandria City Police Department

  • The Alexandria City School Board approved a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Alexandria Police Department (APD), taking into consideration community concerns raised about the role of resource officers in our schools and aiming to boost accountability and equity.

    A newly worded School-Law Enforcement Partnership, which clarifies and refines the scope of the relationship between Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and the APD, was approved 6-3 by the School Board.

    The adjustments are part of the review process for the partnership, which will occur every two years and exists to safeguard the safety and security of our students and staff. The new 2020-22 MOU between ACPS and APD will begin on Nov. 1 and run until Oct. 31, 2022. 

    Before the agreement, ACPS conducted a far-ranging review process to consider concerns raised about the presence of armed police officers, known as school resource officers (SROs) in some of our school buildings.

    This review process included a public hearing, community feedback survey and School Board work session held earlier this month.

    “We are grateful for the community’s input in this process and we are committed to addressing the concerns raised by enhancing our partnership with the Alexandria Police Department’s school resource officers. Maintaining a safe school environment for our students and staff remains a top priority,” said School Board Chair Cindy Anderson. 

    Among the additions made to the Understanding following the feedback received, are:

    • No questioning of a student will take place without the presence of a school administrator.
    • Long-arms (e.g. shotgun, rifles) should not be openly displayed in the school or around the campus unless there is an emergency.
    • Body camera video should not be used in the school setting unless there is a law enforcement purpose. If used, such recording(s) must be strictly controlled and protective of juvenile information per legal requirements.
    • Police vehicles should be parked in the garage. Parking in front of the school should be avoided unless required for traffic control support or police emergency.
    • SRO and law enforcement officers should obtain a search warrant in all cases where initial consent was not obtained and probable cause exists that a crime has been committed.
    • NARCAN may only be used by a trained SRO. 
    • A law enforcement officer or SRO, may have access to a student's education records only with written consent of the student's parent/guardian and in accordance with FERPA.

    ACPS has two SROs at T.C. Williams High School (King Street and Minnie Howard campuses), and one each at George Washington Middle School and Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

    APD established the School Resource Unit (SRU) in 1997 in conjunction with ACPS, the City Manager's Office and the City Council.

    All officers selected for the SRU attend a 40-hour School Resource Officer School. This training is provided by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services - Center for School Safety. The SROs also receive additional specialized training from ACPS.

    In recent months, there have been concerns from some community groups and individual students that the presence of the SROs in our schools is counterproductive.

    To address some of these concerns, the latest MOU also includes enhanced partnership declarations and the addition of a Notice of Rights to protect the student’s legal rights if questioned by an SRO on school premises. 

    The updated agreement reads, “While in the presence of a school administrator, the student will be informed generally of the purpose of the investigation, warned against self-incrimination in a developmentally appropriate manner, and also informed and advised that the student has the right to remain silent, that the student is free to leave an interrogation, and that the student has the right to stop the questioning and request that his or her parent(s) or guardian(s) or an attorney be present at any time during interrogation.”

    There is also an affirmation that any action taken in response to disciplinary misconduct and/or criminal offense will be administered “fairly and without regard to race, national origin, disability, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation or marital or parental status.”

    Read the School-Law Enforcement Partnership MOU (PDF) in its entirety.