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San Jose school districts contemplate contracts with cops

By Natalie Gao and Michelle Qiao Oct. 15, 2020


Grace Li Art


As San Jose school districts make the switch to virtual learning to minimize the risks of spreading COVID-19, many schools have also reconsidered their contracts with the San Jose Police Department (SJPD). The Black Lives Matter movement’s condemnation of police brutality in tandem with the uncertainty of reverting to in-person models in the near future led many administrators to question the morality and necessity for police officers to remain on school campuses.


On Aug. 25, SJUSD held a board meeting with community leaders to discuss the possibility of ending its contract with the SJPD, according to The Mercury News. While students would no longer be on campus, SJUSD administrators ultimately decided to continue working with the SJPD to maintain the safety of staff members commuting to school.


During the summer, however, many students from San Jose districts had petitioned to remove police officers from campuses. A petition from the San Jose Unified Equity Coalition to terminate contracts with the SJPD got over one thousand signatures, and another petition directed toward the East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) received over two thousand signatures.


“Police should not be on SJUSD campuses. It is unnecessary and does not result in a safer environment on campus. Putting police on school grounds only serves to create a more hostile and dangerous environment,” Junior Conner Shih said.


In contrast to the SJUSD, other school districts in the community have taken a different approach. For instance, the boards of education of Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD) and ESUHSD have both unanimously decided to stop funding police officers on their campuses and to end their partnership with the SJPD. San Jose Spotlight finds that ARUSD and ESUHSD decided to terminate their contracts due to their concern for students’ anxiety caused by the presence of police officers as well as data that indicated that the possibility of requiring police officers’ services to combat their schools’ altercations is low.


Despite some believing that the money would be better spent towards more community-based projects such as mental health professionals, SJUSD spent a total of $1.3 million on police contracts in the past two years.

According to The Mercury News, removing police officers from campus will save $100,000 in ARUSD’s budget and $700,000 in ESUHSD’s budget. Some administrators suggested using this money towards funding the districts’ other needs, like counseling and classroom resources. It may also help offset budget cuts, especially during the age of COVID-19; The Washington Post projects that public schools in Calif. will lose 20 percent of their state funding due to the pandemic. Despite some believing that the money would be better spent towards more community-based projects such as mental health professionals, SJUSD spent a total of $1.3 million on police contracts in the past two years.


“Police officers should not be on campus since they are unnecessary. It is uncomfortable to have someone walking around with a weapon during school hours, and it makes my friends and me uneasy. Instead of utilizing funds to place intimidating figures on campus, the district should allocate the money towards more important things such as improved mental health resources and rehabilitation,” Junior Ruby Grimes said.


 

About the Contributors


Natalie Gao

Staff Writer


Natalie Gao is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer. She likes playing Tetris and making mac and cheese in her free time.











Michelle Qiao

Staff Writer


Michelle Qiao is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer. She loves to play volleyball and spends her free time reading, drinking coffee and watching Pixar movies.

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