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Portland Public Schools to put security staff who don't have guns or badges in middle schools this year

Campus safety associates are not law enforcement officers and don't have a badge or gun. They don't punish students for bad behavior, the district said.

PORTLAND, Ore. — As students prepare to return to class in Portland Public Schools next week, the district plans to add security staff to middle school campuses.

Campus safety associates (CSAs) will monitor hallways and ensure the school is safe.

CSAs are not law enforcement officers and don't have a badge or gun. They were already present on high school campuses last year but will now be stationed at middle schools as well.

"We'll have one campus safety associate at every middle school," said Molly Romay, the senior director of security services at Portland Public Schools.

Romay said the district has been looking to add CSAs over the past few years.

"They're trained in restorative justice practices," Romay said. "They're trained in de-escalation."

CSAs will work to prevent and stop unsafe situations, like fights on school grounds. CSAs do not punish students for bad behavior, the district said.

The decision to add more security comes after PPS eliminated school resource officers (SROs) three years ago.

The district hired 17 new CSAs, most of which will monitor the school's middle schools. A couple of CSAs will also act as "rovers," to ensure K-5 and K-8 campuses are also safe. In total, the 17 new positions will cost PPS around $1.3 million this year.

High school CSAs will work more hours this year, patrolling campuses from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. That will ensure that there is security during extracurricular activities like athletic team practices, Romay said.

"They give that sense of safety to our students to know that somebody is out there, looking out for them, looking out for the campus," Romay said.

Some parents agree with the district that more security is needed at schools.

"I know when I was in school, I wasn't held accountable for things I should've been held accountable for," said Peter Richardson, the parent of a PPS student.

In the future, Romay said she hopes the program can expand to have CSAs at all campuses. 

Richardson said isn't on board with that plan.

"I don't think it's needed in elementary schools," Richardson said.

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