Dear Community Members,
PODER, SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition, MUJER de UCSB, along with SBUSD parents, staff, and community members have been continuing to address the incident that occurred in January involving local high school students in which a group of males made misogynistic, homophobic, and violent death threats online, as well as an instructional video targeting specific students at local schools, that was posted to a public site and shared electronically.
The situation was reported to the SB County Sheriff and they determined no credible threat due to the students’ lack of access to ammunition for weapons used in the video. Coming in the wake of the tragic events in Parkland, FL., and the hundreds of other incredibly deadly school shootings in recent years, we are disappointed in the lack of action or support from local law enforcement.
The district recently decided to demote former Principal Ed Behrens from his position following the incident, according to a recent statement. However, we also believe scapegoating one person will not address the root causes, and that the district administration is responsible for the school environment and should also be held accountable (we see you Matsuoka). The wellbeing and safety of our youth should be the school district’s priority, but it seems like they have been more considerate of their image and avoiding a public relations debacle.
We have been working with the school district and parents to develop preventative safety measures to be implemented on campus. A petition started by SURJ has been in circulation as well, and can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/santa-barbara-community-members-concerned-about-sbusd-student-safety-and-campus-culture?recruiter=856621581&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition
We strongly support measures that do not involve Student Resource Officers (SRO) on campus and more cultural competency and emotional development training for district staff, in addition to their campus safety training.
PODER urges you to email or call SBUSD Board Members and tell them you do NOT want the Sheriffs on campus and that you DO want Ethnic and Gender Studies and an expansion of mental health services, like the Reconnecting Youth program for all students. It’s important that you state your role, especially if you are a SBUSD parent.
We also encourage folks to attend the next school board meeting March 13 at 6pm at the School District Offices (720 Santa Barbara St.), to show solidarity and support for the students and their families.
Here’s our template:
Dear Santa Barbara Unified School District Board Members,
As a _________________________, I support the demands listed by PODER, especially:
-No SROs on campus—Vast evidence against the effectiveness of SROs can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/SROdata
-Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement—This solution gets to the root of violence among our youth, especially race and gender based violence which we see so often in school shootings and in the recent death threats at SMHS. As the ESN Coalition has outlined for the past two years and continues to do, ES courses are beneficial to all students, regardless of race and background.
-Expansion of mental health services like the Reconnecting Youth (RY) Program for all students and implementation of properly trained and prepared leadership at the school and district.
President - Jacqueline Reid, PhD: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President - Wendy Sims-Moten: email@example.com
Clerk - Laura Capps: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ismael Paredes Ulloa: email@example.com
Kate Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org
Always in solidarity,
People Organized for the Defense and Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth