There is a new School Resource Officer (SRO) in the Medina Central School District and he is already making an impact on the students. Police Officer Stephen Gross has been busy acquainting himself with staff and students. "I am really excited about being here. I love getting out and being in the community and working with the kids has been very rewarding and I am enjoying getting to know them all," he says. "As far as the school district is concerned, safety is their priority and I felt ready to step into that role and I am excited about that."
Social Studies teacher, Joe Byrne, asked Officer Gross to come to his 8th grade classes and talk to the students. "I wanted to give him a chance for the students to become more familiar with him and show off his impressive knowledge of school district law," says Mr. Byrne. "Today we are talking about how we balance civil rights in our society with school safety," explained Officer Gross. "I think it is very important that they know their civil rights as students, but also the concerns that we, the government, have for school safety."
The students talked about such cases as Tinker v. Des Moines that cemented students' rights to free speech in public schools, New Jersey v. T.L.O that concerns 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, Ingraham v. Wright in which the US Supreme Court ruled that corporal punishment in public schools did not violate constitutional rights and Kent v. United States where it was determined that juvenile offenders are entitled to the same amount of due process of law as adults while under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court.
The class had some interesting opinions on the various cases as Officer Gross talked about them and discussed how they would relate to what happens in their school. There was also time for students to get a little more personal and ask him about his gear, role in the school and the community. "My number one goal is to help students to be less afraid of police and to make sure that you get home safe every day," he told them. Mr. Byrne says he is very grateful for the time that Officer Gross spent in his class. "He had a training in New Jersey the day before and made sure to get back here to talk to my students. I think it was a great way for them to feel more comfortable with him and incorporate some of the lessons we are learning in class."