Beaufort County Schools Give Their Account of the SRO Debacle | Eastern North Carolina Now | In light of recent questions and discussions regarding the decision to seek a private vendor to provide School Resource Officer services in the Beaufort County Schools, and in an effort to be transparent and provide relevant information to the public.

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Press Release | March 26, 2021

    In light of recent questions and discussions regarding the decision to seek a private vendor to provide School Resource Officer services in the Beaufort County Schools, and in an effort to be transparent and provide relevant information to the public, the Board of Education is sharing the timeline of events that led to its recent decisions. On November 13, 2020, the Beaufort County Board of Education received a written communication from the Office of the Sheriff and signed by Sheriff Ernie Coleman. The letter specifically stated, "The MOU is set to end on June 30th, 2021. Any party's participation in this MOU may be terminated upon ninety (90) days written notice as set forth in section I, term and termination of the agreement. This letter is a formal notification of our intent to terminate this MOU in 90 days." Upon receiving the written communication as an email attachment, the superintendent sent the letter to the county manager to share with the County Commissioners.

    The superintendent sent a meeting request to Sheriff Coleman which read, "Please receive this communication as an official meeting request to discuss the termination of the MOU between the BCSO and BCS. I would like to meet with you at 1:00 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2020 at the district office, if possible. Otherwise, I will be happy to travel to your office and/or another site you deem most appropriate. Please feel free to email or call me at ###-###-#### to confirm a meeting date and time. As you may recognize, I have a sense of urgency to speak with you regarding the safety of our students and employees. Thank you for your consideration." The Sheriff honored the request and met with the superintendent and assistant superintendent at the date and time requested.

    During the meeting on November 17, 2020, Sheriff Ernie Coleman specifically told the superintendent and assistant superintendent that Beaufort County Schools should make "alternative arrangements" in staffing schools with school resource officers (SROs) for the future. The superintendent communicated this information to the Board of Education during the regularly scheduled meeting on November 17, 2020. On November 18, 2020, the chair and vice-chair for both the County Commissioners and Board of Education met together with the superintendent and county manager to discuss a course of action.

    The Board of Education approved the Request for Proposal (RFP) for School Resource Officer Services in Beaufort County during the regular meeting on February 2, 2021. The superintendent directly spoke with the County Commissioners Chairman by phone to ensure the commissioners were comfortable with the timeline and process. The Chairman responded to the superintendent citing, "the commissioners are comfortable with the timeline as long as the contract and payments are represented in the new fiscal year, after July 1, 2021." The RFP was released on Wednesday February 3, 2021 and the Board of Education voted on March 16, 2021 to contract with Allied Universal. The Office of the Sheriff did not submit a bid proposal in response to the RFP.

    During a joint County Commissioners and Board of Education meeting on Tuesday March 23, 2021, the superintendent confirmed that the Sheriff terminated the MOU, told the superintendent and assistant superintendent to seek "alternative arrangements" for securing the schools, and did not submit a bid proposal to the RFP. The superintendent presented the Allied Universal pricing proposal. Upon motion by Commissioner Walker and second by Commissioner Richardson, the motion passed 4-3 to allocate $650,000 per contractual year for the next three years. The fiscal allocation reflects the County Commissioners total contribution not a total increase.

    The Board of Education wishes to thank the County Commissioners for their consideration in ensuring students and employees within Beaufort County Schools will be protected throughout the entire school day. The Board of Education wishes to welcome Allied Universal who will provide NC sworn and armed police officers in our schools who will have the legal rights and training to engage an active shooter as well as possess arresting authority.

    The Board of Education wishes to thank the many Sheriff Deputies who have served in Beaufort County Schools over the years. We recognize that the change to a company police force comes with many questions. However, the Board of Education reiterates that the aforementioned actions are as a result of the Sheriff terminating the existing MOU for the School Resource Officer program. While the Board of Education would not have chosen this path otherwise, the Board is confident that Allied Universal can and will provide the services necessary to maintain safety and security on our campuses.

    Contact: Matthew F. Cheeseman, Superintendent
        Beaufort County Schools
        321 Smaw Road
        Washington, NC 27889
        (252) 946-6593  •  @CheezSupe
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( March 27th, 2021 @ 9:36 am )
Pretty Much Uncle Jeb and we will be doing this for 3 more years.

The great irony here is that the commissioner(s) participating in this disinformation campaign is /are the same commissioner(s) who pushed for this yearly blanket of an SRO in every school in the first place when this initiative was put into place.

I have said my piece that I would go a different route, not because in would require less less funding, but because it would provide a far greater envelope of safety. That direction would be to have precise and immediate lockdown mechanism(s), with most classrooms and common areas protected by conspicuously random fire power.

I would still keep the SROs in the high schools however.
( March 27th, 2021 @ 9:31 am )
I'm sure there will be a huge influx of locals being targeted by this story. But it is very apparent that our Sheriff is acting very strange. Something is amiss with his actions. I find it hard to believe that he is the highest of high positions in this county. Everyone has someone to answer to, or else that person is a dictator. We need to know which way this fiasco rolls.
Uncle Jeb said:
( March 27th, 2021 @ 9:11 am )
So let me get this straight. Barney lied. He made it appear that the Commissioners "defunded the police." Actually it appears the Commissioners appropriated $650K to cover the need the Sheriff created by backing out of the MOU. Do I have this correct Barney?
Is it true or not that you tried to blackmail the Boards to give you more money or you would take your toys and go home?
Seems to me there has been no "defunding" unless the Commissioners cut the "Office of Sheriff" by $650K in the next budget. And that is precisely what they should do. At least.
Will look forward to your next press release.

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