San Rafael City Schools Ends Its Partnership With School Resource Officers


Eliseo Diaz, Contributor

After mass protests and activism, Marin County Schools have been going through rough patches by incorporating School Resource Officers. Recently many social media accounts on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have been targeting SROs for removal at Marin County schools.This is linked to the Black Lives Matter movement which has grown in response to incidents involving police officers and people of color, including the June killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Major issues in Marin County include the School Resource Officers (SRO) in Marin County Schools. The School Resource Officers are mostly police officers who work at middle and high schools. Their main priorities are with school administrations, security staff and faculty on developing safety plans in order to ensure a safe environment to learn and the schools safety. 

Marin County, north of San Francisco, is one of the more segregated counties in California. Marin County is only 20 miles away from Oakland, where the Black Panther Party originated and has later become a part of the Black Live Matter movement. The county’s demographics is made up with the majority of 80% being white, 3% African American, 1% American Indian, 4% Two or more races, and 15% Hispanic or Latinx

Alexander Peck, an administrator at San Rafael High School, is currently in his second year. Mr. Peck is one of the administrators that has connections with the School Resource Officers. Officer Ocan, who appears to be white to many students but is Latinx (Speaks Spanish), and Officer Stobo, who is white, both used to work at the San Rafael City School District. 

Officer Ocan came from a Vape Grant. The Vape Grant is gifted from the government to stop the use of all tobacco products including e-cigarettes amongst youths. Officers Ocan’s main priority was to receive data on vaping and making sure students on campus are not vaping. Although Officer Ocan came from a Vape Grant, Mr. Peck believes Ocan has done more than enough to make SR a safer community. 

“It’s much broader than that, one of the things that SRO really wants to do… be present in the community. Want to support students and staff. Form a connection to build trust within the community in order to do their job effectively.” Unfortunately Officer Stobo was not as present at San Rafael High School. He still worked in the district but at different schools, such as Terra Linda and Davidson. 

Emma Newman is the co-founder of Police-Free Schools Marin and an Activist. She is a part of the organization trying to abolish all SROs from the Marin School District. Emma promotes this awareness through an Instagram account. She was inspired through the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement. 

The BLM movement has brought reform and awareness to issues and practices that are racially biased against BIPOC (Black, Indeginous, Person Of Color) individuals. “The movement to remove SROs from school campuses has found success in various parts of the country, we are hoping that Marin County schools will join the growing list of schools who reject School Resource Officers and support BIPOC student safety,” said Newman. If Marin County can benefit from removing SRO out of each district, it will show over time. Due to distance learning it will be difficult to determine the result, without an SRO at school. Only time will tell.

Officer Ocan and Officer Stobo were unable to comment for this story. 

Kevin Esquivel, a senior at San Rafael High School, used to see the SRO patrolling the campus every other day. Kevin briefly remembers at the Freshmen Class meeting, which takes place the first month of school. Kevin describes the class meeting. The School Resource Officer introduced himself (Officer Mathis) and the SRO soon mentioned, “If you don’t go into office that means you are doing a good job, but if you do see me at the office waiting for you…  that’s why I’m here’ with a stern voice and soft chuckles.” 

Kevin did not laugh at the intended joke. This immediately made Kevin feel uncomfortable. He didn’t want anything to do with SRO. Kevin has maintained to stay away from the SRO till this day.

“Diversity is key,” said Kevin Esquivel, after speaking about how to keep the San Rafael community a bit safer. Both SROs have been doing their job in orderly fashion, but there’s always one factor.

“There will always be a level of fear,” said Mr. Peck. 

Throughout social media platforms, all sorts of information is spread, from world news to your uncle’s posts. Depending on what you follow, subjects can be very sensitive, very biased or just inaccurate news. Mr. Peck is highly aware of information being thrown around platforms, “From social media, I have been reading it’s due to the disproportionate amount of students of color who are being misidentified.” said Mr. Peck. 

Newman said, “I believe every student, regardless of their race or background, should be allowed to gain an education in an environment where law enforcement officials do not detract from their safety and their ability to learn, let alone thrive, at school.” Newman shared the data showing that, In Marin County, Latinx children are approximately 3 times more likely to be suspended than white children, and Black children are approximately 9 times more likely to be suspended than white children.

No student shouldn’t ever think that someone is out to get them and fear the possibility of harassment from Resource officers. In San Rafael City Schools, Latinx and Black students comprise 90% of citations and comprise 94% of arrests. Despite making up only 61% of the SRCS student population. This data shows that BIPOC students are likely to get in trouble with SRO in San Rafael City Schools.

School Resource Officers have been targeted due to racial inequality, prejudice and discrimination. Newman said, ”It has become a systematic issue.” If organizations are attempting  to remove SRO from the School campuses, who will help during an emergency? The SRO’s intended job is to know the campuses front to back and be able to locate every existing exit on the premises. 

Depending on the emergency situation, SRO does not have the adequate training to respond to mental health emergencies. When an unexpected emergency occurs Mr. Peck only has a few options if SRO were to fade away. “Due to time constraints and limited resources of mobile crisis’; we are limited when we can call them. They’re operating from 1-9 pm. Thus if we do away with SROs, the only resource we have for a mental health crisis call is the police.” 

As of September 14, 2020 San Rafael City Schools (SRCS) has ended its partnership with the San Rafael Police Department SRO. SRCS has become the first district in Marin to end its partnership with the local police department. But, there are other districts within Marin that still have SROs. The results came after a board meeting, with members of the school board and students from the SRCS district. The San Rafael community will soon see how the school will operate without a School Resource Officer.