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Goleta Council, Santa Barbara School Board Join Forces to Combat Youth Violence

Sarvis says the issue merits a 'community response'

The Dos Pueblos High School library hosted a joint meeting Friday between the Goleta City Council and the Santa Barbara School District Board of Education.

The participants spent the most time discussing collaboration in responding to youth violence and creating youth activities.

Of about 16,000 students, the district has classified about 160 involved in gang activities and another 750 as gang affiliated or high risk.

“There very much needs to be a community response to youth violence,” Superintendent Brian Sarvis said.

The city of Goleta, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the city of Santa Barbara and other agencies combine resources to work on the issue of youth violence.

Goleta Police Chief Phil Willis said the department has seen a decrease in gang membership recently, and it hopes to see the trend continue.

At Dos Pueblos High, three out of eight total felony arrests were gang-related in 2008, Willis said. In 2009, none of the four felony arrests was deemed gang-related.

The impact of graffiti on local campuses has diminished, as well. It’s always gone before students get to school in the morning, thanks to custodians and maintenance staff, Sarvis said.

School resource officers also have proved invaluable to the district, said Michael Gonzalez, the director of student services and compliance.

He said that when an alleged gunman was reported near San Marcos High School, the school administrators had immediate access to the resource officer to help coordinate a response, he said.

Their one-on-one relationships with current and past students also are helpful in dealing with youth violence, Willis said.

Youth activities, funded by the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara, the Police Activities League and community block grants, help keep students involved during the high-risk unsupervised hours between when students get out of school and parents get home, Gonzalez said.

The Goleta City Council and Santa Barbara school board each have meetings scheduled for Tuesday.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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