During the public comment part of the Kittery School Committee Zoom meeting on Tuesday July 21st, Chairperson Julie Dow read multiple letters from various individuals, (which were not published prior to the meeting).
Due to Zoom Meeting restrictions, Members of the public who wish to offer comment may do so in writing by emailing them to Donna Schoff (email@example.com) by noon on the day of the meeting (July 21st ). Comments received by then will be read aloud during the Public Comment portion of the meeting. Be sure to include your full name.
The theme of these letters was wide spread and mostly directed at the elimination of the Kittery’s School Resource Officer’s position. Towards the end of the meeting, the School Committee then went into Executive Session for personnel. Then came out of Executive Session to take “take action to approve the Memorandum of Agreement between the Kittery Police Department and Kittery School Committee School resource Officer services for 2020-21 school year”. They moved thata no action be taken on this issue and it will be brought back up during the August 4th meeting to be held at the KCC.
to watch the meeting for yourself, click the following link.
Listen carefully to the words and statements of these letters that were read by Chairperson Dow.
Ourkittery feels, “Although the schools have been closed, we should never forget the reason why these SRO officers are here in our schools in the first place. The safety of our kids and faculty. A first line of defense and a valuable resource. Kittery is not immune and bad things happen everywhere.”
“Many of the letters read by the Chairperson of the Kittery School Department don’t even have players in the game,” expressed one individual. “Why are we caving to pressure when the moral fabric of Kittery is not an issue?” said another.
As a Councilor, I received calls from parents and teachers and other Town Councilors expressing their concern that they were not made aware of the letters, the reading of the letters or the School Committee’s position on whether to eliminate the School Resource Officer program. As a grandfather of kids in the school system, I am equally concerned. As a retired Police Officer, I know all too well what goes on and the potential for what can happen and does.
To learn more about the Kittery School Resource officer, I included a link below.
In case you are not aware, the Kittery School Department has had a school resource officer for many years. It began with Kittery’s Dare Program and Camp Postcard with Dare’s Greg Arbo and Russell French. Following them, the program was expanded to include Robert Creamer, Rachel Horning and now Jay Durgin. The SRO position is based on a MOA between the Town of Kittery Police Department and the Kittery School Committee.
Former SRO Rachel Horning’s article, printed in the Portsmouth Herald in 2014. Click the link.
In 2016, Officer Jay Durgin was selected to replace Horning as the SRO officer. Jay Durgin the current Kittery School Resource Officer is a Kittery Resident, Traip Academy Graduate and now has over 20 years of Law Enforcement experience.
Read SRO Jay Durgin’s full article in the Portsmouth Herald by clicking the following link. See this article in the Portsmouth Herald here.
Chief Short said at the time in the Seacoast online article, The SRO job, he added, “requires the balance of role model, mentor, adviser, counselor and police officer all rolled into one. There are times when police officers in these types of assignments lose their identity. With Rachel’s personality, there is no chance of that happening.”
When Durgin was selected as the replacement and new SRO officer, Chief Short stated” “The partnership between the school and the police department has enhanced safety and opened a strong line of communications between the two departments. This is an invaluable program, and the Kittery Police Department is honored to be a part of it,” Short said.
At the time of Durgins appointment, School Superintendent Allyn Hutton said, “The Kittery School Department is very pleased with the work of Officer Horning over the past year and appreciates her efforts to establish the SRO program in Kittery. We are looking forward to building on this excellent foundation and are confident that officer Jay Durgin is the best individual to enhance our efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning.”
Durgin stated in an article for the Portsmouth Herald:
Durgin said the safety of school students and staff is a priority for him, and he described that as “a big responsibility.”
“I want a safe environment for the kids to learn,” he said. “A lot of the kids, I went to school with their parents.”
Durgin said much of his job is playing the role of a guidance councilor, and he called his role “the root of community policing.” He said he worries most about “the safety of the kids, the buildings and the administrators,” but the students’ optimism outshines the worry.
“The kids are so optimistic,” he said. “They have so much in front of them. I graduated from here; I was sitting in their place. Their optimism gives me the most hope.”
Above and below are link to all the email accounts of the members of the Kittery School Committee. Don’t wait until it is too late, I think it’s time they hear from you.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Kim Bedard 207-439-9548 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicholas Chalupa 781-473-3350 email@example.com
Annie Cicero (910) 990-6181 firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Dow, Chair 207-439-7866 email@example.com
Anne Gilbert, Vice-Chair 439-9067 firstname.lastname@example.org
Danielle Hoffman617-285-1155 email@example.com
Rhonda Pomerleau firstname.lastname@example.org