King County Sheriff’s Office says it won’t be staffing Lake Washington schools with SROs next year

The King County Sheriff’s Office says that it has been told by the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) that the department will no longer be staffing school resource officers (SROs) for the 2023-2024 school year.

According to a written statement from KCSO, LWSD initially wanted to have SROs at four schools for the 2022-2023 school year -- Evergreen Middle School, Eastlake High School, Timberline Middle School, and Tesla STEM High School. Because of staffing shortages at the sheriff’s office, though, only Eastlake High School was staffed with SROs.

Moving forward, KCSO says that its partnership with the district will end in the next school year, effectively pulling their SROs out of Eastlake High School as well.

LWSD took issue with KCSO’s statement in a response to KIRO 7 issued Wednesday afternoon, asserting that the district “has not ended agreements with any of our law enforcement agencies for next year.”

“We are continuing to have conversations with our law enforcement agencies about what next year will look like,” LWSD’s director of communications said.

LWSD also partners with law enforcement Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish to provide SROs to schools. KIRO 7 spoke to the officer who oversees the SRO program in Kirkland, who says that while there are discussions with the district, nothing is set in stone for their department.

There were mixed feelings about SROs during a push to bring them back to Seattle Public Schools.

In a 2015 incident, the SRO, a Lakewood police officer, was accused of putting the child in a chokehold before arresting him.

The city of Redmond says that SROs are “important partners for our community in keeping schools safe and students on the right track.” The Lake Washington School District and the Redmond Police Department provide school resources to Redmond Middle School, Rose Hill Middle School, and Redmond High School.

The city of Kirkland says that Washington is one of a few states that consider SROs, officers of the law.

LWSD says they use a “layered school safety” approach that uses multiple types of protection to filter and resolve threats.

“At LWSD we think about the following layers: wellbeing, classroom safety, school safety, internal safety, external safety, cyber safety, and safety management. Each of these layers has multiple components and taken together are designed to help keep our students, staff, and visitors safe,” says LWSD.

The KCSO says that memorandums of understanding are evaluated every year by both the school district and the KSCO to determine how many officers are needed.