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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 4:00 am | Fair 49º


Santa Barbara School District OK’s Resource Deputy at San Marcos High

The Santa Barbara Unified School District has approved the placement and funding for a school resource deputy at San Marcos High School, effective July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the district's governing board voted unanimously to move forward with a contract with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, which calls for Santa Barbara Unified to pay $212,000.

Details of the contract are still being worked out, but the deputy is expected to serve at San Marcos five days a week during school hours, participate in implicit bias and restorative practice training with school faculty, and provide public safety training to students, staff, and parents as appropriate, according to Frann Wageneck, assistant superintendent of student services.

“It’s important that all members of the San Marcos community know the SRD, be acquainted, feel familiar, and the officer is approachable,” Wageneck said.

The Sheriff’s Department will consult the district regarding hiring the trained police officer. The contract is expected to be complete in June, district spokeswoman Lauren Bianchi Klemann said.

The new hire comes months after the high school near Goleta had incidents of threatening graffiti, online threats and a student who reportedly set off a firework on the 4750 Hollister Ave. campus.

San Marcos is the only high school in the district that doesn't have a law enforcement officer on campus.

Since April 3, a school resource deputy has been on campus and will remain until the current school year is complete next month, Bianchi Klemann said.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors announced before the start of this school year that it could no longer fund the position for the 2017‐18 academic year. 

During deliberation on Tuesday, funding for the position was a concern for some board members, in addition to the role of the student resource deputy during the summer months.

“I’m happy to move forward with this, but I do have questions about the summer and full-time piece,” trustee Kate Parker said. “The county needs to be part of this discussion. In the long run, the resource officer in the summer is working for the Sheriff’s Department for the county and not just our site.”

Wageneck noted school activities regularly continue in the summer.

“We have about 400 to 500 students taking summer school at a time — a high school never truly shuts down, so that need can be there,” Wageneck said of the officer who will be supervising through the summer. “There are also events going on."

Two parents of San Marco students voiced their support for a school resource deputy during public comment.

Nearly 1,300 people, who advocate for a school resource deputy at San Marcos, have signed an online petition to reinstate the sworn law enforcement official. The petition states, “the timing could not be worse for the elimination of this position, as unimaginable violence is taking place in our schools across the country."

Those opposing police on school campuses argue deputies may create discrimination.

A report addressed to the Santa Barbara Unified and created by professors at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Arizona and Central Michigan University states that “there is no conclusive evidence demonstrating that SROs improve school safety” and “an SRO has a disproportionate negative effect on students of color.”

The position involves crime prevention on campus, responding to altercations in and around the high school campus, dealing with taking action against unauthorized people on school property, providing leads and information to the appropriate investigative units, making arrests and issuing citations, among other duties.

Trustee Ismael Paredes Ulloa spoke of the importance for school resource officers to know their students and parents.

“An SRD who knows the students and parents will be a lot more effective,” he said. “The exposure of the SRD to different programs, and being able to have them sit in on presentations, talking in classes or vital meetings where the families or students are expressing concerns, questions or reflections would be huge.”

Other Santa Barbara district high schools have gone without a resource officer. Santa Barbara High School did not have the service from 2009 to 2012, according to a staff report.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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