Pleasanton City Council Meeting: SRO Program's Update
On September 30th, 2021, the City of Pleasanton held a meeting in conjunction with the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD), where they discussed how the School Resource Officer Program (SRO program) instituted by the city is affecting schools across Pleasanton. For nearly 20 years, there has been no agreement between the Pleasanton Police department and PUSD. During this meeting, speakers were able to address their concerns to members of the Pleasanton City Council, and learn about the city’s future plans for an SRO memorandum of understanding (the MOU).
Genesis became involved in this issue as it works hand in hand with the School to Prison Pipeline, a system we have been committed to DISRUPT, as it continues to represent a negative relationship between the criminal justice system and particularly Black and Brown youth. Genesis has spent most of this year supporting the Grassroots Law Project, a student-led club at Amador Valley High School. Our objective is to support the youth in pushing for a school environment they deserve in order to be the best students they can possibly be. Our requests are aligned with our values of compassion and redemption--we want investments of PUSD and the City of Pleasanton to result in a more constructive and positive learning environment for youth, especially given the mental health issues youth are facing due to the pandemic.
Here are some of our concerns that we have brought to elected officials at our July 2021 Forum where we gathered 85 people. Students with the Grassroots Law Project are also frustrated with the extent students are aware of the SRO program. Most students have little to no knowledge about this program, or how it affects their day-to-day experiences at school. Because of this, there is a concerning disparity between the students’ and adults’ understanding of the SRO program.
One main concern students have are the elements of the SRO training program officers must take. While the details about the course are unclear, the course is 40 hours long, and does not seem to cover all the proper protocol when dealing with students, especially those who suffer from mental illness nor developmental disabilities. As students have noted, SRO training is shorter than a simple drivers course, which does not inspire too much confidence in the program. When accounting for new material the city has stated they would add to the course, students and staff cannot help but wonder whether 40 hours is sufficient course length, and whether it was ever sufficient to begin with. In addition, students hope that through their efforts with the City of Pleasanton, they could work to give schools more reliable and dependable resources specifically geared to helping the mental wellbeing of students.
Overall, our team of youth are satisfied with the progress they have made so far, as without our persistence, there might not even be a discussion about the SRO MOU. One student leader (now an alum) commented, “It’s surreal, to see how far we have come since the beginning.” We are hopeful to see how the City of Pleasanton plans to respond now they have been aware of their constituents’ concerns regarding the SRO Program. If you wish to join our fight against the SRO program and Disrupt the School to Prison pipeline, please email us email@example.com and stay tuned for more updates on our website and blog!