Lake Chelan School District Superintendent DePaoli reacts to Sheriff’s Office decision

by Dennis Rahm, includes press release from Chelan County Sheriff’s Office

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett recently released the announcement that the School Resource Officer Program contracts have been placed on hold. The SRO works within 4 school districts: Cascade, Cashmere, Chelan and Manson.

The decision by the Sheriff’s Office has a direct impact locally as the Lake Chelan and Manson School District share the services of Officer Nigel Hunter in the SRO capacity.

Lake Chelan Now reached out to Lake Chelan School Superintendent Barry DePaoli who said “it’s unfortunate that kids are in the middle of this situation”.

DePaoli feels strongly that having a Resource Officer in school helps to build positive long standing relationships between kids and law enforcement. DePaoli said he has been assured that if assistance is needed, the Sheriff’s Office will provide needed support as soon as possible.

The cost of the program to provide a Resource Officer in Chelan and Manson schools is in excess of $100,000. The two local school districts pay the majority of the cost. Last year the Lake Chelan School District contributed just over $42,200 and the Manson School District paid just  under $34,400.

The following release was submitted by Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett outlining the timeline and reasoning for putting the School Resource Officer Program on hold in four Chelan County School Districts. It is presented in its entirety.

On August 18, 2021 Governor Inslee announced that Proclamation 21–14 (Vaccination Requirement) had been expanded to include all employees, on-site contractors and on-site volunteers at all public and private K-12 schools.

On August 20, 2021 Sheriff Burnett reached out to the Cascade School District, Cashmere School District, Chelan School District, and Manson School District to discuss the pending 2021/2022 School Resource Officer (SRO) contracts, as this new mandate now involved Sheriff’s Office employees who are protected by a collective bargaining agreement.

After many discussions with the School Districts, the Sheriff’s Office, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and each SRO, it was determined that the contracts would be put on hold, in order for all those involved and potentially affected by the Vaccination Requirement to work through this process.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office values the working relationship we have with our School Districts, their administration and staff. Together with our School Districts, the Sheriff’s Office administration, staff and School Resource Officers, we have worked collaboratively in order to provide programs that foster a safe learning environment for both students and staff.

Sheriff Burnett is working closely with the School Districts, Sheriff’s Office Employees and the Chelan County Deputy Sheriff’s Association in hopes of finding a resolution, while at the same time giving due process to all those potentially affected by the Vaccination Requirement.

On September 8, 2021 the Chelan County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Chelan County Sheriff’s Administration will be meeting to discuss this topic and determine how we move forward with future SRO contracts with the local School Districts.

In the interim, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office is committed to keeping close communications with our schools and providing the best service possible under the current circumstances. The Sheriff’s Office will respond to all non-emergency and emergency calls for all schools and we will continue to work proactive patrols around our schools in order to maintain a safe learning environment for all.

For additional information, contact: Brian Burnett at 509-630-7599 or visit