I applaud the Lewiston School Committee for retaining school resource officers within the School Department. SROs working within Lewiston and Androscoggin County school systems provide opportunities to safely educate all students to take responsibility for actions, to manage that responsibility within a civilized society, and to maintain methods that allow students to form as adults with tools to continue personal and civic responsibilities.

Working as part of our public schools’ Safety Care and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention teams, SROs within education departments reduce truly punitive measures that place students into our community’s penal-mindset judicial system first. Sadly, “Busting stereotypes,” in the Sun Journal’s Sept. 27 edition, announced that the local Drug Abuse Resistance Education program has been eliminated from Lewiston’s schools.

It’s not in our Lewiston-Auburn inner city streets alone (approximate 3-mile radius within a 101-square-mile circumference) that the need for DARE and PEACE programs exists. Removal of weekly DARE programs from over-taxed school guidance programs is detrimental to providing students with self-care skills and abilities to form coping skills other than turning to drugs and alcohol. I have seen two out of four inner city schools’ weekly 40-minute guidance sessions disbanded or interrupted to respond to severe cases.

How will we educate the underrepresented masses of our other streets that lack access to neighborhood after-school programs? How will we deliver those SRO’s voices while guidance counselors sometimes teach social-emotional lessons, and when our students have selectively silenced their parents’ voices?

Lynda Leonas, Lewiston

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