School resource officer position resumes

By Lillian Bowe
Staff writer
lbowe@pntonline.com

The Portales School Board approved an agreement Monday with the Portales Police Department to resume having a school resource officer.

The program was terminated for the 2012-2013 school year.

Portales High School Principal Melvin Nusser said the program was not terminated because of the arrest of former school resource and city police officer Victor Castillo, who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. The termination was decided before Castillo’s arrest and because there were no available officers to continue it, Nusser said at the time.

Castillo was sentenced in April 2013 to 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to maintaining a sexual relationship with the 16-year-old student.

Portales schools Superintendent Jonnie Cain said the latest agreement is much the same as the previous one.

“It is a good program and it will be good for the students,” Cain said.

The resource officer’s duties are to talk to high school students about the issues of drugs, violence and other topics as well as help school faculty with student behavioral issues, Cain said.

Cain said there were a few changes to the agreement including a termination policy. One allows the school to terminate if state funding is no longer available. Both the city and the schools must give 90 day notice of termination.

The agreement also calls for a video camera in the office of the resource officer and the officer can go to other schools besides the school to which he is assigned.

Board members agreed the program needed to return and cooperation between police department and the board has been good. The agreement must still be approved by the Portales City Council.

Other highlights from Monday’s meeting include:
• Former Super-intendent Randy Fowler was awarded the 2014 Student Achievement Award for his role in improving student achievement. Cain said the board asked for recommendations from teachers and Fowler’s name came up the most.

• The board authorized the superintendent to sign an application for a well drilling permit at Portales High School. The well will be used to water various fields on the campus. Cain he estimates it will save the school $50,000. The cost of the well will be $25,000 and the school will have the rights to this water.

• The board approved authorization to enter an agreement with Bank of America for purchasing cards. The cards will be used on athletic trips or other extracurricular activities for meals and other expenses. Previously, the schools have been using purchase orders for the trips. Many of sponsors said they were having trouble finding places that accepted them. The cards can be filled to any amount the school needs and will act much like a debit card. Bank of America offers the service to schools for free.