LEE COUNTY, Va. — Recently, a decision was made by the Lee County School Board not to include the school resource officer in the budget for the upcoming school year. This makes Lee County the only school system in southwest Virginia without an officer.
Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons reports that for the past 12 years, a school resource officer has split his time between the two high schools. The position was funded for four years by a grant, but has been funded for the past eight years by the school board.
Parsons said that it was bad enough that there is not an officer in both schools, but now there will be no officer at all. “We have contacted nearly every jurisdiction west of Roanoke and if there is no funding, we will have the only high schools that do not have an officer.”
Parsons stated that the resource officer handles many things in the school. He places charges relating to fighting, theft, drugs and other paraphernalia, attending school functions, as well as being a visible deterrent to students and people coming into the schools.
According to Parsons, nearly all resource officers are funded by either the school board, the board of supervisors, and some are shared by the two.
“It is sad that an officer is needed in any school, but those are the times we live in,” said Parsons. “I know that education is important, but being safe while getting that education is also very important. I hope this funding is reconsidered so that our high schools will have an officer, but if not, I assure the parents, students and school staff that we will respond to any incident that occurs at the high schools or any other school as quickly as we possibly can.”