By Sterling McGinn

The Tahquamenon Area Schools (TAS) Board of Education voted Monday night to hire a resource officer for the district.

The vote took place during the regular January meeting, with about 12 members of the public in attendance. Parental concerns have been increasing in recent months following a long series of destructive and illegal activities—including violence, vandalism, and vaping—committed by some students at school.

Superintendent Stacy Price had been unexpectedly called away and was not available for her reports that evening.

“A school resource officer is a sworn law officer who works part or full time in a school,” said TAS Board President Stuart McTiver.

Duties of a resource officer would include walking the school grounds, assisting with truancy lateness, assisting in school safety plans, evacuation and reunification plans, mentoring of students, providing programs on various subjects and assisting with issues where law enforcement would be contacted.

Funds for the officer are available through Michigan Section 97 flat grant, which provides money for school security. Additional funds can come from 31aa money, which provides per-pupil funding, McTiver said, if necessary.

“Chippewa County Sheriff and their school district had an agreement already, so the superintendent copied and shared that with our sheriff’s department to review,” McTiver said.

Two deputies from the Luce County Sheriff’s Office will split the duties of the resource officer. Luce County Undersheriff Mike Peters said the officers, determined to be himself and Zach Kitzman, will not always be at the school but will maintain a schedule that keeps students on their toes.

The officers will be in uniform while working at the school. They’ll first complete online training for the position.

The Luce County Sheriff’s Department will invoice the school once per month for the hours worked.

McTiver said details are still being arranged and a start date for the officer has not been set.

Newberry resident Jim Hoy asked if the officers would be assisting with any discipline issues.

“I think [discipline issues] would be turned over to administration for proper discipline,” said McTiver. “If it was criminal in nature, then obviously that would be different, but for actual infractions of school code, then it would probably be turned over to administration.”

Trustee Veronica Edwards said the intent is for the resource officer to deal with situations that would normally cause the district to call police.

“It doesn’t mean that discipline wouldn’t happen, but if they are caught busting the bathroom up, we would be calling law enforcement for them because of that,” Edwards said. “It eliminates a step because they are here already.”

“In other school districts I have worked in, they also have had the capacity to get to know students better— kind of like the cops walking the beat—they get to know the students better, and that in itself may deter some things,” said trustee Laura Generou.

After discussion, the board voted to move forward with pursuing the resource officer position.

In other news, the board voted to accept the resignation of music and band teacher Catherine Clark, who resigned for personal reasons.  “We wish her well in her future endeavors and we are sad to see her go,” said McTiver.

Also taking place that evening was the annual election of board officers. The 2024 TAS Board of Education officers are: Stuart McTiver, president; Larry Vincent, vice-president; Kristine McCraren, secretary; Bruce Klusmeyer, treasurer.