He’s served in various roles in law enforcement in the area since 2015, but Moody County Deputy Gabe Frias hopes to be a more visible resource for students and their families in the Flandreau School District as the new School Resource Officer (SRO).
“I love working with kids; I believe this is where God has wanted me to be,” Frias told the Moody County Enterprise during a few moments of downtime during the school day last week.
Frias, who grew up in California, was officially introduced to the Flandreau School Board during its meeting November 8 in his new role. He recently left the City Police Department for the Sheriff’s Office — as the Sheriff’s Office took on the SRO position. Frias will work as the SRO during the school year and fill in wherever else he is needed when school is out for the summer and holidays. Frias began his career with the military and worked at a call center and as a dispatcher before moving to Flandreau.
The new SRO sees incredible opportunities ahead but also is looking critically at how to address some of the district’s biggest challenges.
“Educating not only the teachers on a lot of the real world stuff that’s going on like when kids are on drugs or some of the trauma they’re experiencing...but bridging gaps that I’ve noticed between the reservation and the non-reservation communities, and bringing in different law enforcement agencies and other resources to help.”
Around the table will be tribal officials, educators and law enforcement to discuss this. They had planned to gather this past Friday but will reschedule for a date to be determined, given school was cancelled due to the inclement weather.
Truancy is one of the bigger concerns for students and their education right now, Frias said. Collectively he feels they can all do better to get and keep students in class. Drug and trauma education for school staff and for students is another issue he’d like to address quickly.
“I don’t want to be that person who, when they (students) walk by in the hallway, they see a cop that’s here to be after them, but as someone who is wanting to connect with them and truly know that they matter and make sure they know that they’re safe from their peers and bullying, and by outside individuals as well.”
“I don’t want the badge to put up a wall.”
Frias said he would also like to see how he and the community might work together to brainstorm or create a place for teens to go, especially those that may not be involved in sports or other after-school activities. Teens, he said, need something to do and right now, there really aren’t many good opportunities for them.
The school board also addressed the policy for addressing concerns or questions to the board, updates were given on service projects and other happenings in each of the schools.
The counseling team outlined the impact of new programs being implemented, one of which is the Hope Squad. The Enterprise will be looking at that program and how Flandreau Public Schools became the first in the state to implement the program in next week’s edition.
In other action taken…
In a 5-2 vote, with Board Chair Tom Stenger and Adam Wiese voting nay, the board approved the formation of an art club and a pride/GSA club for students who may be interested.
Approval was given to order student laptops for the 2022-23 school year now as there are industry shortages of these items. Payment will be made from the fiscal year 2023 budget.
The board accepted the resignation of Melissa Dupree, paraprofessional and the extra-curricular duties of Karlee Krogman, cheer coach and Robert Lack, middle school football coach, and moved Blake Savey from middle school girls’ basketball coaching to girls’ C team coaching duties. They then hired Emily Taylor as middle school girls’ basketball coach and Brendan Streitz as C team boys’ basketball coach.