The Santa Barbara Board of Education unanimously voted not to renew its contract with the School Resource Deputy at San Marcos High School and to direct staff to reallocate funds and create alternatives for the district high schools to address issues such as poor attendance, family addiction issues, and bullying.
“We cannot continue to go forth, when we have the opportunity to rethink campus safety,” said Board Clerk Wendy Sims-Moten. “I think this is the opportunity to step up and do what we need to do.”
About 30 people — parents, students, teachers, and community members who work with students — spoke in public comment, raising concerns that allowing an officer to remain on campus will inflict further damage on students, especially students of color who have trauma due to interactions with law enforcement. Some students from San Marcos have used social media to share their stories about interactions with police officers or direct interactions with a School Resource Deputy (SRD).
Several local groups were invited to discuss the concerns regarding officers on campus, including Showing Up for Racial Justice S.B. (SURJ) and Ethnic Studies Now. The group Cops Off Campus S.B., a student organization that first met with the district to discuss the issue, has been one of the social media accounts that allowed students, teachers, or parents to anonymously voice their opposition and concerns.
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“There is just not enough evidence that a [School Resource Officer] prevents gun violence,” Board Member Laura Capps said. “It’s not something I can support going forward.”
In other news at the board meeting was a report that 17 students and two staff members in the Santa Barbara Unified School District tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and currently, there are 754 students’ families that have not consented to testing.
Since the beginning of the school year in August, 80 students and 23 staff have contracted COVID-19. Though vaccination has been encouraged by the district for all eligible students, about 27 percent, or about 2,400 secondary school students, have been fully vaccinated.
Among district staff, about 91 percent, or about 1,500 staff members have been fully vaccinated. The board passed a vaccine mandate in September which would require all district staff to be fully vaccinated by November 1. Currently, about 91 employees are seeking exemption from the mandate.