Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today formally requested that Gov. Mike Parson call a special session of the General Assembly during the upcoming veto session to implement the recommendations of his School Safety Task Force. Specifically, Auditor Galloway called for the state to fully fund armed and properly trained school resource officers in all Missouri schools.
"In recent days, Missouri students have gone back to school and the issue of school safety is at the top of mind for parents and educators," Auditor Galloway said. "This task force studied our schools' current safety measures; received public input from parents, educators and law enforcement; and then arrived at concrete recommendations. Now it's time to act and ensure their work is not collecting dust on a shelf."
Led by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, the Missouri School Safety Task Force issued a report on July 31, which included the recommendation that all schools have a school resource officer. School resource officers are sworn career law enforcement officers, and Missouri law requires they receive specialized training and certification.
Based on the report, approximately 60 percent of Missouri public schools currently have school resource officers. Missouri does not fund school resource officer programs in individual school districts. Instead, the cost is borne by local school districts or jointly with police and sheriffs' departments. In her letter urging action by the Governor and legislators at the beginning of the school year, Auditor Galloway is proposing fully funding school resource officers in all schools using existing state funding without a tax increase.
"Teachers should educate our students, law enforcement should protect our children, and lawmakers should act instead of sitting idly by while our kids are put in danger," Auditor Galloway said. "The state should fully fund this priority so that local districts can use their resources in the classroom. My audits have identified financial inefficiencies throughout government and taxpayer-dollar giveaways that could easily be eliminated in order to make this recommendation a reality."
The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) recommends sufficient funding be made available for the placement of carefully selected and specifically trained law enforcement officers in schools. Auditor Galloway joins the NASRO in opposition to arming teachers, school faculty or staff.
Read the letter here.