School district brings back campus police after student fatally stabbed

After a high school student was stabbed to death on campus, a Santa Cruz County school board voted to reinstate its school security officers and pair them with mental health clinicians, Lookout Santa Cruz reported Sunday.

The Pajaro Valley Unified School District board voted 6-1 last week to bring back school resource officers to two of the district’s high schools, Watsonville High and Aptos High, in response to safety concerns following the Aug. 31 fatal stabbing of a senior at Aptos High. Two other students were arrested in connection with the killing.

District Superintedent Michelle Rodriguez said that pairing mental health clinicians with school resource officers will be an effective way to keep students safe while addressing the roots of student misbehavior, Lookout Santa Cruz, a local news website, reported.

“Each one has specific strengths and training that the other one does not,” Rodriguez said. “We feel that that combination can be a win-win to the situation which we’re in, which is wanting to have resource officers on campus to see if that can help support human safety, while at the same time, recognizing that context matters.”

Like many school districts in California, Pajaro Valley Unified eliminated its campus security officers in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. Pajaro Valley’s reinstatement of its security officers is a pilot program that, combined with other security measures, will cost about $2 million.—Carolyn Jones, Ed Source, September 20, 2021