Parents, current School Resource Officer react to unknown future of KM SRO program

(ABC 6 News) – The Kasson-Mantorville School District is considering changing the way it handles school security. Instead of a Kasson Police Officer serving as the School Resource Officer, the district is looking to hire a private security officer. Something both parents and law enforcement are concerned about.

In an emergency, every second counts. If the district hires a private officer, parents fear it could slow the response in an emergency. Even law enforcement said it’s likely it would.

"We cover three schools in Kasson. If you got to go from one to the other, would you rather have red lights and sirens coming your way for an emergency? Or a guy driving 30 miles an hour because he has to obey the speed limit? And, not trained as well," said Roger Berge, a parent who has had two children go through the Kasson-Mantorville School District.

Roger’s youngest child just graduated from Kasson-Mantorville Schools. He said if his kids still had more school left, his family would change districts.

"That one to two-minute delay of them not being able to contact dispatch except through 911 is huge," added Berge. "That could cost lives whether that’s a medical emergency or God forbid, an active shooter."

"It was saddening to see that they’re contemplating getting away of this position," said the current Kasson-Mantorville School Resource Officer Jesse Kasel.

As an employee of the Kasson Police Department, he has specific law enforcement training. Training a private SRO likely wouldn’t have.

"I think we need to make sure all School Resource Officers are properly trained. You know there’s great trainings out there, and continued trainings, and it does make a dramatic difference. And, increasing that would only help our safety overall."

In a Facebook post, Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose pointed out more than a dozen reasons why he believes the job should remain a position held by law enforcement and asked the district to reconsider. Officer Kasel hopes they do too.

"I hope the Kasson-Mantorville school board decides to keep this position. I’d be happy to come back and continue," added Officer Kasel. "Otherwise, I’ll continue to service the city of Kasson. Go back on patrol and you know, as parents need, I’ll still be there. For the students and staff, just in a different role and in a different manner."

Kasson-Mantorville Superintendent Mark Matuska wasn’t available for comment. But in a letter sent to parents, he cited the budget as one reason for the proposed change. The district also wants the SRO to report to the superintendent, rather than the Chief of Police. Something the Dodge County Sheriff also disagrees with.