Calif. District Votes to Hire Police for Extracurricular Events

In June, the San Jose Unified School District in San Jose, Calif., voted to end its school officer resource program. Police officers will no longer be present on campus during regular school hours when students return to classes next week. However, on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 12, the board voted to hire off-duty SJPD officers as security for extracurricular activities and events on campus. The vote was unanimous; however, reactions among parents and the larger community were mixed.

The June decision to remove SJPD officers from campus came without any suggestions or plans for a replacement security presence on campus. It also went against the input of superintendents and principals district-wide. “I made a mistake as board president on June 24,” said Board of Education President Brian Wheatley. “Once the vote was over—because the staff recommended continuing the SRO program [but] the board voted no—what I should have done is said, ‘Okay, colleagues, we need to spend some time now talking and giving directions to staff about the rationale behind it and next steps.’”

The decision to continue the relationship with SJPD proved controversial among parents. “We thought it was no police on campus as of June 24,” said Crystal Calhoun of the San Jose Unified Equity Coalition. “Because when you have a school district where there are more police officers on campus than counselors, you know, what is the real message you are sending to the students?” he later added.

Wheatley said he had considered but dismissed the idea of hiring private security. “Someone asked me why not have security guards,” he said. “Nothing against security guards, but my understanding is they don’t have the training, experience, knowledge.”

According to local news, the agreement runs through the end of the calendar year. The board plans to revisit the decision at another meeting before December. Trustees will also reconsider whether to bring officers back to campus during the school day, or to continue partnering with them for security at large school events like graduations and football games. In the meantime, staff have been tasked with researching the decisions that surrounding school districts have made.

According to local news, school districts in Oakland and San Francisco have also removed police presence from schools—but in favor of building up restorative justice plans and building up non-police response programs like interventions and counseling. The Fremont school board voted to end its school resource officer program and reversed its decision shortly after.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at MJones@1105media.com

Featured

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • Unlocking Peace of Mind

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown Read Now

  • Emerging Campus Access Control Solutions

    Emerging solutions in campus access control can mean different things. Usually, we expect the topic to focus on the very latest in door security products and solutions that have just been recently released or are about to be launched. After all, staying up on improvements to keep campuses safer is critical. Plus, it’s always interesting and exciting to learn what’s new and how innovations are going to better protect lives and assets and help the industry be even more successful. Read Now

  • Here’s How Instructional Audio Can Play a Key Role in School Safety

    Ensuring the safety of students and employees is critical in today’s educational environment. While the threat of a school shooting is in the back of everyone’s mind, the truth is there are many possible scenarios that could crop up at any time in classrooms, hallways, and other school spaces—from fights or altercations to a sick child or staff member who requires emergency attention. Read Now

Webinars