FREMONT (KPIX 5) — In an overnight vote following a lengthy board meeting, the Fremont Unified School District has reinstated its campus police officer program after ending funding for the program in November.
Around 1 a.m., the district voted 4-1 in favor of reinstating the school resource officer program, but without providing any immediate funding since students are not on campus. The board is requesting meetings with Fremont Police Department about how to incorporate ideas from a task force to create more accountability and measurable goals for the SRO program.READ MORE: White House Unveils COVID Vaccination Plans For Children Age 5-11
If the board is satisfied with a reimagined SRO program, it will develop a plan with the police department and move forward with another vote to reinstate funding.
The Fremont Unified School District board voted 3 to 2 in November to stop funding the school resource officer program, which costs the district more than $800,000 per year. With funding from the district, there were six school resource officers – one for each high school in the district – and a sergeant to oversee the officers. Without funding from the district, Fremont Police Department would only have four officers assigned to all the schools.
Since that November vote, two new members joined the board and the issue of eliminating funding for school resources was brought back up for discussion again. At the meeting on Thursday night, the board discussed whether to reverse the November vote and continue to fund the school resource officer program.
“There’s always a huge disconnect between what parents want and what students want,” said Alvin Lee, a senior at Fremont’s Mission San Jose High School who has been outspoken about eliminating school resource officers on high school campuses in Fremont.
“A lot of black and brown students feel disproportionately targeted by SROs, but they also feel unsafe with SROs on campus,” says Lee
Lee said SROs are often brought in to deal with students who are struggling with mental health issues, something Lee says should be handled by an expert.READ MORE: Police Seek Naked Burglary Suspect In Petaluma
“What we really need is more investment in mental health services that a much broader cross section of students can actually utilize,” said Lee.
At Thursday night’s meeting, the board heard public comments from almost 80 parents, students, alumnae and teachers.
The majority of parents spoke in favor of funding the SRO program while many of the students said they would prefer to see those funds allocated to mental health programs or other similar programs.
The board’s vote in November to cut funding to the SRO program followed the decision of other districts in the Bay Area to take officers out of schools in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd.
The Fremont Mayor Lily Mei and Police Chief Kimberly Petersen asked the board to reconsider and with two new members on the school board, the issue was put back on the table.
“This is not new information on this topic. As it has been discussed and reviewed by the board before, and it is here before the trustees again tonight,” said C.J. Cammack, Fremont Unified School District Superintendent, as he presented a summary of the SRO Task Force report that was presented to the board a few months ago.MORE NEWS: 'It’s A Big One'; Weekend Atmospheric River Gaining Intensity Off California Coast