SAN JOSE – The San Jose Unified School District is joining the list of districts in the city that have cut ties with the San Jose Police Department.
On Thursday, the Board of Education rejected a proposed agreement with the city of San Jose, ending a long-standing partnership between the district and the police department.
“We understand the magnitude of this issue and recognize that this was not an easy decision to make, as evidenced by the 3-2 vote,” Superintendent Nancy Albarrán wrote in a letter to the school community Friday.
The decision follows pressure from groups to remove the presence of contracted police officers from district campuses. The effort was launched last summer in the wake of national and local protests of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police.
“It’s a long time coming, and it came from organizing efforts of dedicated community leaders, teachers, students and parents,” said LaToya Fernandez, a local educator and founder of YouthHype, an organization that aims to empower youths from disenfranchised and marginalized communities.
“This is how it should be, when those who are directly impacted advocate for change, it is the responsibility of those in power and position to meet that need,” she continued. “While we are excited about this decision we still plan to hold the board and schools accountable to following through on this decision and strategically implementing restorative programs, ethnic studies and mental health resources.”
Other school districts including the Alum Rock and East Side Union High School districts have also opted not to renew contracts with police.
In her letter, Albarrán said district staff members had recommended continuing the partnership, “ensuring officers are not involved in student discipline, receive specialized training to better understand and interact with youth, develop positive relationships with students, and are at schools to maintain a safe and secure environment for students, employees, and the community.” The recommendation, Albarrán said, was made following input from students, parents and district employees.
The district will now need to reformulate safety plans, emergency training and procedures for criminal activity on campuses for the 2021-22 school year, Albarrán said.
“We will also need to determine how we will replace the range of supports school resource officers provided to both students and staff,” she said, “and we will likely need to reduce or eliminate large-scale events for public safety purposes as law enforcement support will no longer be available.”
Albarrán said police officers provide a range of services to keep the school community safe, from keeping illegal fireworks off campuses on the Fourth of July to supporting students who are victims of assault.
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Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this report.
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Author: Jason Green