May 21, 2024
Teachers and students at Eastlake High School in Sammamish are concerned their long-standing school resource officer program is coming to an end.

Teachers and students at Eastlake High School in Sammamish are concerned their long-standing school resource officer program is coming to an end. The King County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they were notified by the Lake Washington School District that they will not be staffing SRO positions for the 2023-24 school year.
For more than two decades, Eastlake High School has had a school resource officer. The Lake Washington School District contracts with the KCSO to fill these positions. The district also has SRO agreements with nearby Kirkland and Redmond Police Departments.

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For the last few years, Deputy Matt Martin has served as Eastlake’s SRO. Martin is aware of critics who say having law enforcement in schools is a pipeline to prison. However, from his perspective, being a school resource officer isn’t about handcuffs and jail time, it’s about building trust with students and occasionally redirecting bad behavior.
“I want their success here at the school and I want their safety here at the school,” said Martin. “That occasionally means I’m going to be stopping them and making them go left instead of right.”
More than 30 staff members at Eastlake High School have expressed frustration with the news. A handful spoke with KIRO 7′s Lauren Donovan.
“The majority of students that I’ve spoken to are upset that there is a potential for him to leave,” said teacher Darin Fisher. “It’s disappointing to think in this time with all of the violence in schools, potential gun shootings, also the mental health issues that students have that we could lose a resource that can really help kids.”
The Lake Washington School District refused to answer phone calls and will only communicate via email. They sent this statement in response to the Eastlake community’s concerns:
As we provided previously: No decisions have been made regarding next year. Currently, the District contracts with the Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish police departments for uniformed police officers to support schools regionally during the school day. The District has begun conversations with each of these agencies about plans for next year to maintain the important services that they provide to our schools despite budget reductions and staffing challenges. The District takes a layered safety and security approach to ensuring the wellbeing of its students and staff.
We didn’t renew a contract with King County this year because they were unable to staff the contract the prior year and had removed the officers assigned to our district.
Members of the Eastlake community says if that is indeed the case, they want to be a part of that conversation.

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