San Jose School Board Votes to Extend Police Contract Despite Pushback

Protesters called for the reallocation of funds used for police services to student care services like counselors and social workers.

San Jose School Board Votes to Extend Police Contract Despite Pushback

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Unified School District’s Board of Education voted to extend its contract with local police to patrol its campuses despite protests by local activists.

On Dec. 10, the board unanimously approved updated terms and conditions for on-campus police as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the city, reports CBS Local. Among the updated language is the requirement that students consult with legal counsel before being questioned by police on campus.

“School officials will ensure that student disciplinary matters remain the responsibility of school staff and not the police officer,” reads the MOU. “The police officer will refrain from being involved in the enforcement of disciplinary rules that do not constitute violations of criminal law, or are criminal violations eligible for diversion.”

Hours before the vote, members of the San Jose Unified Equity Coalition (SJUEC) and similar organizations gathered outside the district building to demand the district terminate its contract.

SJUEC is calling for the reallocation of funds used for police services to student care services like counselors, social workers and other behavioral health professionals. The protest included a 22-car caravan around the building, many of which displayed signs saying, “Counselors not cops.”

Rosie Chavez, an organizer with Silicon Valley De-Bug, said the 2017 officer-involved killing of her nephew affects her perspective on having police in SJUSD schools, which her 13-year-old son currently attends.

Chavez, who is a drug and alcohol counselor, believes there should be more interactions between students and counselors than between students and police.

“I don’t believe our money should be going to the police on our schools and policing our kids, criminalizing them at such a young age,” she said. “Most kids that are going through things have been affected by trauma, like my nephew who left three kids behind — they’ve been traumatized. I don’t know what their mental health is going to be years down the line, and I don’t feel like policing the schools is healthy for the kids.”

Superintendent Nancy Albarran said the district will review the community’s concerns but that more stakeholders should be involved in future discussions about police in schools.

“We have to remember that there are a lot of parents that do not attend board meetings,” she said. “They engage at the school site level and provide feedback through surveys and discussions at the school site level.”

While the board approved the MOU, there is currently no contract in place with the San Jose Police Department since schools shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear if officials will renew the contract when students return to campus.

Last year, the school board approved the allocation of $1.4 million for 46 San Jose police officers for the 2019-20 school year.

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