Should officers return to Santa Rosa school campuses? Here's what the community thinks

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Should officers return to Santa Rosa schools? Here's the debate
After several incidents of violence - including a middle school fight involving a kitchen knife and a deadly high school stabbing - Santa Rosa teachers, parents, and students are demanding safer schools.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Teachers, parents, and students are demanding safer schools.

On Wednesday speakers packed the chambers during the Santa Rosa City Schools Board meeting.

The president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association, Kathryn Howell, said she represents about 900 people.

"We're angry that we've asked this Board for help over and over, and over again," Howell said.

VIDEO: Santa Rosa students say they're living in fear after deadly stabbing, demand more safety

The Santa Rosa school board heard from dozens of students and parents during its meeting, a week after the deadly stabbing at Montgomery High School.

Howell said it's been nine months since the deadly stabbing of a student at Montgomery High School and not many safety measure have changed since.

"Nine months since the tragic events since Montgomery High School and pretty much nothing has changed. Our teachers aren't safer, our students aren't safer," Howell said.

One of the main topics of discussion for the Board was bringing school resource officers back to campuses permanently.

In 2020 officers were removed from Santa Rosa Schools as part of an effort to confront racial biases in the criminal justice system.

Students at Montgomery High School said their School Safety Data survey reveals they do want SRO's to return.

A student said out of 500 students surveyed, 89.2 percent voted 'yes' and 10.8 percent 'no.'

VIDEO: Santa Rosa students demand more resources in wake of deadly school stabbing

Santa Rosa students, parents and educators came together to discuss school safety after a 16-year-old was stabbed and killed at Montgomery High.

Santa Rosa Police say Herbert Slater Middle School was put on lockdown last Thursday after a student fight involved a kitchen knife. Police said the incident was possibly gang related.

On Friday and Monday, teachers, students and parents rallied outside Santa Rosa schools to show the Board action is better than no action.

This week the district brought police officers back to high schools leading up to winter break.

During formal comments, Amie Carter with the Sonoma County Office of Education said these incidents of violence and weapons at our schools are part of a national problem.

MORE: 2 Montgomery HS students arrested for bringing weapons to campus, Santa Rosa police say

"School resource officers are not the antidote to school violence - but they can play a pivotal role in multifaceted approach," Carter said.

On Wednesday evening the school board meeting extended until midnight with more than 80 public comments.

"We currently do not know an SRO term may look like, we do not know what that tool may cost. But I do believe it is a collective responsibility to collaborate," Trustee Jeremy De La Torre said.

Trustee Stephanie Manieri said she would like to work with city partners and see some investment from the Santa Rosa Police Department for an SRO program.

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