The school resource officer posted at Webster Junior High School has been pulled and re-stationed at the Minden Police Department.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper says Officer Tina Douglas was pulled from the school about two weeks ago, claiming the Webster Parish School Board is not holding up its end of the deal.
“I knew the contract had not been signed, but I was under the impression that even though the contract had not been signed that the school board was doing what they said they were going to do, which was paying for two officers,” he said. “A couple of weeks ago, the mayor made me aware that the school board wasn’t doing anything other than what they’ve always done, which was $1,500 a month for the SRO at Minden High School.”
He says the agreement was the school board was going to pay the two SROs – Douglas and Sgt. Tokia Whiting – their full salaries until the contract was signed.
Since Douglas was pulled from the school, Cropper says if WJHS needs an officer, they are to call the police department and an officer will be sent just like any other call.
He says he understands the need for the SROs, but without the school board paying for them, he cannot afford to keep them at the school.
“I need people here too bad,” he said.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls says he knew nothing about her being pulled from the school.
Rawls says auditors are the reason the final contract has not been presented to the Webster Parish School Board, adding technical language is being reviewed by internal personnel at the school board office.
“It’s very complex and a lot of rules and regulations,” he said. “We’ve had several attempts at the board, and just about the time we got the final drafts ready, the auditors got a hold of it, and rightfully so. They make sure we don’t sign a contract and do things illegal with money. It’s just a lot of stuff. We’ve got it down to what we think it’s supposed to be; we’re almost there.”
He says a meeting has been scheduled to resolve all the issues and have the contracts ready for the February board meeting.
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd says he hasn’t heard anything about where the contract stands.
“They haven’t said anything to me, and they haven’t contacted me,” he said. “The only thing I want is for it to be fair, equal amongst the parish. Sgt. Johnny Coleman is an asset to our community and schools. I think our students deserve protection, and it gives a peace of mind when parents know there is an officer close.”
Lynd says Coleman, who has been with the department for more than 30 years, covers North Webster High School, North Webster Junior High and the elementary schools.
The original contract was presented to the board by Minden in June 2015, when Lynd and Springhill Mayor Carroll Breaux approached the board to inquire about entering into a contract with them to cover an SRO. Lynd says they took Minden’s proposed contract and put their department and figures in and presented it to the board.
MPD and the City of Minden are asking the school board to pay the two SROs’ benefits, salaries and fuel and maintenance on the vehicles. Rawls says much of that may be changed in the final contract, pending the approval of both parties. He says if or when the contracts are approved, the money to pay the SROs will come from the general fund.
Currently, both the City of Minden and Springhill receive $1,500 per month per officer for services to Minden High School, WJHS, and the Springhill schools.
Sgt. Tokia Whiting is the school resource officer for Minden High School and Douglas was the SRO for WJHS. Douglas was stationed there full-time during the last part of the 2014-15 school year. The positions are on a 10-month cycle, and when school is out, they return to the MPD for regular patrol.