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Medina eighth-graders learn about laws from new school resource officer

Posted 2 October 2015 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Medina Police Officer Jason Barnum talks to Joe Byrne’s eighth grade class. Students shown in back row are Cooper Fearby, Simon Fox, Jacob Washbon and Neal Martin.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – Jason Barnum, the new school resource officer for Medina, was invited to speak with eighth grade students in Mr. Joe Byrne’s class.

Barnum has been with the Medina Police Department for seven years and he shared with the students numerous examples of things he has experienced while performing his duties.

“As a police officer you have to be very careful not to violate someone’s privacy and you have to articulate every move you make if you have reasonable suspicion,” he told the class. “I think with me sharing my experiences, it made them realize how the laws affect them and why they were created.”

Officer Barnum said he enjoyed talking to the class.

“Many of the students had great questions and we got into some interesting discussions and debates about the laws,” he said. “I think a great side benefit was that it allowed the students to get to know me and feel comfortable with me. I want the students to know I am here as a resource for them and I think it was a good ice breaker. ”

Mr. Byrne said he is grateful for Officer Barnum for coming in and talking to his students.

“He did six sessions and I think it was great for the students to hear his personal stories,” Byrne said. “It definitely made the laws more real to them.”

At the beginning of school every year, Byrne discusses Supreme Court cases that directly affect the eighth-graders in his class.

“For two days we go over six cases that affect everything from the students’ right to free speech, athlete drug testing and privacy rights in school,” Mr. Byrne said. “We usually talk about cases like Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District where students wore black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam. When school officials told them to remove them, the students refused and they were suspended. The court sided in the students’ favor, but only as long as it was not disruptive.

“Basically they said students have a right to express themselves as long as it allows the school to keep order. Another important case we discussed was New Jersey v. T.L.O. where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school saying although students have an expectation of privacy, but that it has to be balanced with the school’s responsibility for maintaining an environment where learning can take place. Therefore, a student’s belongings can be searched, but not arbitrarily.”