Concerned parents in Santa Barbara County form group to help make campuses safer

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SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A large group of parents from all over Santa Barbara County have formed a group to help make school campuses safer.

Another parent from San Marcos High School started a petition to bring back a School Resource Officer (SRO) to her son’s school.

"They eliminated the position at San Marcos High School,” said Nancy Sheldon who started the petition.”They had an SRO for over 20 years, and with the budget cuts it was one of the programs they decided to let go of."

San Marcos High School is the only high school in the district that doesn't have a School Resource Officer. The city of Goleta funds an SRO at Dos Pueblos High School while Santa Barbara High School's is paid for by Santa Barbara City. The County would be responsible for providing a Resource Officer at San Marcos High School. The price for one is nearly $150,000 a year.

"We know it is expensive,” said Sheldon. “But we also wanted to make sure that the board of supervisors know that it is something that this community desperately wants. We want a resource officer to be involved in these kids lives so they can have a positive experience with law enforcement."

Kelly Hoover, the spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, believes that Resource Officers would help prevent future threats.

"Having a school Resource Officer on campus is absolutely critical,” said Hoover. “It provides a law enforcement presence, a level of security that is just priceless."

But not everyone agrees that a School Resource Officer would bring safety to a campus.

"I don't believe that bringing more guns on campus is going to make the school safer,” said Candice Perez, a volunteer for Santa Barbara PODER. “It's proven that law enforcement targets students of color. We need to ask ourselves why are we in this violent place in our world? What are the ways we all think and behave that contribute to violence in our society? Ethnic studies in our K-12 schools address these root causes of violence and that is what we need to see."

Meanwhile, nearly 75 parents from all high schools in Santa Barbara County have formed their own group after a San Marcos student issued online threats several weeks ago.

"Teenagers job is to go to school, it is not their job to figure out safety plans,” said Ericka Dixon, a San Marcos High School parent. “So the parents are stepping in to do that."

These parents' mission is to share information, create positive changes and address concerns about student safety. They are hoping to work with the school board on preventative programs.

One of those programs they are pushing for is training by Sandy Hook Promise. The program is willing to train entire school districts for free.

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