County Approves Agreement for School-based Probation/School Safety Officer

CLEARFIELD – On Tuesday the Clearfield County Commissioners voted, 2-1, to approve an agreement between the county and the Clearfield Area School District for a school-based probation/safety officer.

If approved by all parties, the agreement would specifically be between the county’s Juvenile Probation Department and the school district, explained Commissioner John A. Sobel, board chair.

According to Sobel, for quite a few years, the county has had a school-based probation officer at the Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School and the DuBois Area High School. However, this past fall, the probation officer was removed from the CAJSHS.

Since then, Sobel said there have been ongoing negotiations involving the school district, President Judge Fredric Ammerman and the county’s Juvenile Probation Department. He said it resulted in the proposed agreement to return the school-based probation officer to the CAJSHS.

Sobel pointed out that under the proposed agreement, the school-based probation officer’s title has been changed, and it also included school safety officer.

Sobel said so far as his understanding of the proposed agreement, it provides for increased access to information and to the school safety plan, as well as “additional obligations, duties and powers” as the school safety officer.

Sobel noted that the proposed agreement would not result in any increased costs for the county. He also noted that the school-based probation/safety officer would remain an employee of Clearfield County.

Juvenile Probation Supervisor Christine Davis said the department is excited to get back into the CAJSHS. “It is a positive, very positive approach by the Probation Office and the school,” she said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Both Sobel and Commissioner Mark B. McCracken said when they served on the CASD board there was a school-based probation officer in the school. Both said the agreement is only for the remaining three months of the 2015-16 school year, and a full-year agreement would be addressed over the summer.

McCracken said this was a very good program, and it would allow the school-based probation/safety officer to monitor his/her clients, make sure they attend their classes and maintain good behavior at the school.

Commissioner Tony Scotto said he believed it was a good program, and there should be a juvenile probation officer in the school. “The security of students at the school is very important,” he said. “But it’s not the responsibility of the county.”

Scotto said the county should only be responsible for the county. He said the county should only deal with juveniles within its probation department. “I don’t want to set a precedent for providing essentially a school safety officer in the future,” said Scotto.

Solicitor Kim Kesner said the revised agreement he was provided by the county appeared to seek both coverage and indemnification from CASD, which he explained are two, different things. He told the commissioners he could provide the standard language the county used in order to clarify this clause.

McCracken then motioned and Sobel seconded for the county to approve the proposed agreement for a school-based probation/safety officer at the CAJSHS contingent upon the district’s approval with the aforementioned revision. Both Sobel and McCracken were in favor while Scotto opposed the same.

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