Police allowed on campus by the San Jose College Board

SAN JOSE (BCN) – The San Jose Unified School District reaffirmed its relationship with the police this week, despite protests from community organizers.

The Board of Education unanimously approved updated terms and conditions for police on campus on December 10th, “to ensure a safe environment for students, staff and community members,” according to a memorandum of understanding with the city.

Just hours before the vote, dozens of parents and youths from the San Jose Unified Equity Coalition and allied organizations gathered outside the county building to demand that the county end police practice on campus.

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“Police Free SJUSD,” the crowd sang as they clapped together between speeches.

The group included Derrick Sanderlin, who was shot with a rubber bullet in June during protests against police and racial injustice.

The San Jose Unified Equity Coalition named their summer resolution after Sanderlin and submitted it to the school board on August 25th.

The Derrick Sanderlin resolution calls for the reallocation of funds for police services to student care services such as counselors, social workers and other psychiatric and behavioral professionals.

More than 60 people called, emailed, or sent letters to the board asking them to submit the letter of intent and focus on resolving the issue.

There were no public comments in support of the memorandum. Board President Teresa Castellanos said demonstrators had moved the protest from outside the district building to outside their home.

“I’m here in the school district and I don’t really appreciate what’s happening at home. It feels like bullying, it doesn’t feel like a dialogue, ”she said. “I try to do what is best for our school district and our students.”

Castellanos said the impact of COVID-19 should be the board’s priority as police currently do not have a campus as the county’s health ordinance closes schools.

However, the school board approved nearly $ 1.4 million last year for at least 46 San Jose police officers for the 2019-20 school year.

Despite the approval of the MoU this week setting out terms and conditions for police on campus, there is currently no contract with the San Jose Police Department, and it is unclear whether officials will renew the contract if the students arrive Return to campus.

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Silicon Valley De-Bug organizer Rosie Chavez said the police murder of her nephew Jacob Dominguez in 2017 had an impact on the safety of her 13-year-old son, who attended county schools.

“I don’t think our money should go to the police in our schools and monitor our children and criminalize them at such a young age,” Chavez said.

Chavez, a drug and alcohol counselor, said there needs to be more interaction between students and counselors than between students and police.

“Most children who go through things are trauma-affected, like my nephew who left three children – they were traumatized,” she said. “I don’t know what their mental health will be like in the next few years, and I don’t feel that supervising schools is healthy for the children.”

Updated languages ​​in the memorandum of understanding include that students must consult a legal counsel before being questioned by police on campus.

“School officials will ensure that disciplinary matters for students remain the responsibility of school staff and not the police,” the memorandum of understanding reads. “The police officer will fail to be involved in enforcing disciplinary rules that are not violations of criminal law or for which a distraction is an option.”

Jennifer Lewis, a member of the San Jose Unified Equity Coalition, said the school board was hiding behind the red tape rather than responding to the Derrick Sanderlin resolution.

“They said, ‘That’s not how we do things,’ but the way they do things has created a school district where black and brown students are more likely to be suspended than whites,” she said.

After more than three months of inactivity from the district, the coalition organized the protest, which included a caravan of 22 cars around the district building. Many cars had signs saying “Derrick Sanderlin Resolution NOW” or “Counselors not cops”.

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

“We need to remember that there are many parents who do not attend board meetings,” she said.

“You are involved at the school location level and provide feedback through surveys and discussions at the school location level.”

Alum Rock and East Side Union High School districts unanimously voted this year to remove San Jose police officers from their campus.

A spokesman for the San Jose Police Department said the department had no comment on the demonstration or the organizers’ proposals.

Copyright © 2020 by Bay City News, Inc.

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