CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A petition to remove school resource officers from Charleston County schools has gained more than 1,000 signatures over the last week.
The petition, organized by the Carolina Youth Action Project, demands “the Charleston County Council and School Board defund and remove police from Charleston County Schools.”
The organization recommends those funds “be invested in student and teacher supports such as mental health counselors, student concern specialists, school psychologists, guidance counselors, crisis intervention specialists, and student/parent advocates.”
The petition was created last week on Change.org and is called “#CopsOutofCCSD Remove Police from Charleston County Schools.” On Tuesday afternoon, it had just over 1,050 signatures.
School district spokesperson Andy Pruitt said they recently became aware of it.
“We fully understand that there are differing points of view on the topic. CCSD views school resource officers as vitally important to our security plans to keep students safe at school,” Pruitt said. “CCSD also agrees with the importance of school mental health counselors, school psychologists, guidance counselors, and crisis intervention specialists -- and far more district funding is spent on those positions than on school resource officers.”
Board member Kevin Hollinshead said he would not support removing the officers from schools.
“SROs serve in the capacity of the school district as a valuable resource,” Hollinshead said. “For example, if gun violence came towards the school, the SRO is the first line of defense.”
He added he would be open to having conversations about their requests and supported the idea of increasing funding for many of the positions the petition lists.
“I believe in an open dialogue and would love to sit down with them to see where they are coming from,” Hollinshead said.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Charleston Police Department, Mount Pleasant Police Department, and North Charleston Police Department all have officers inside Charleston County schools. None have yet responded to requests for comment about the petition.
The group responsible for the petition did not immediately comment on the matter either.