ROUND ROCK, Texas — It's been a hot topic for nearly a year -- should Round Rock ISD create its own police department?
The school district has publicly considered the idea since June 2018, after both the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and the Round Rock Police Department notified the district they cannot continue to staff its campuses.
The school district held a town hall about the issue on Monday night, as its Safety and Security Community Task Force prepares to draft a final report to the school board.
Some parents are concerned the creation of a district police department would mean more trouble for students.
"I feel like disciplinary actions such as students being defiant, students stealing things ... those things need to be handled by school administrators," Makita Johnson, a parent and member of the Round Rock Black Parents Association, told KVUE. "I feel like students, especially black students and brown students, are gonna be targeted even more."
Institutional racism is at the top of the task force's list of key topics discussed at its meetings.
Other parents said the task force and the school board should keep its focus on protecting students from any threats.
"They're trying to figure out how to make sure all kids are treated equally versus how kids are to be kept safe," parent Stephanie Hughes said. "Right now, the utmost importance should be the safety of our kids."
According to the school district, it would need at least 25 officers (at minimum, two full-time officers at its high schools and one full-time officer at its middle schools).
Due to personnel shortages within the district's law enforcement partners, its campuses have had "significant gaps in coverage."
"During the 2017-18 school year, there were a minimum of 600 total days where a Round Rock ISD secondary campus did not have an officer on duty," according to the school district.
The district said the cost of creating a police department would have "minimal effect" on the district's budget because it already pays the salary costs of the Round Rock police officers and Williamson County sheriff's deputies who staff its schools. It would also use existing facilities for a police department headquarter.
You can read more about the proposal here.
If you missed Monday night's town hall, the district is hosting a second one on Tuesday at Cedar Ridge High School at 6:30 p.m.
The task force will take the feedback it receives from the meeting to the school board as the group prepares a draft of its final report on the topic.
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