School Resource Officer's Candidacy for School Board Creating Flap in Mountain Home

AUGUST 28, 2006 - Posted at 7:59 a.m. CDT

MOUNTAIN HOME, AR - Discussion of a school resource officer's candidacy for the Mountain Home School Board has prompted Mountain Home Mayor Ed House to declare just who employs the policeman.  House held a news conference Friday to say that all three city police officers who are assigned to schools work for the city.

The discussion was prompted by Eddie Helmert's candidacy for a seat on the school board.  Under Arkansas law, an employee of a school district is now allowed to run for the school board.  Another school resource officer, Tom Canta, also filed as a candidate for a seat on the board, but later withdrew from the race.

Baxter County Election Commission Chairman Bob Bodenhamer asked for an attorney general's opinion on such candidacies.  Bodenhamer said he had received a number of inquiries into whether school resource officers were school employees and whether Helmert could run for the school board.

At his news conference, the mayor said the SROs are employed by the Mountain Home Police Department, which pays their full pay and benefits.  He said that $17,500 paid to the city by the school district had been put in a separate account.  He said he had told city officials not to spend any money from that account until there is a better understanding of what that money is intended for.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)