Desert Sands renews law enforcement contracts for La Quinta schools

The Desert Sands Unified School District School Board voted unanimously to renew its contract through the 2024-2025 school year with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for two deputies to patrol and provide services on the following La Quinta campuses: La Quinta High, Summit High, Colonel Mitchell Paige Middle, and La Quinta Middle.

The district and the city of La Quinta will each pay 50% of the cost of the two deputies — an estimated $578,500 billed to each agency on the three-year contract.

The contract with the sheriff’s department and the memorandum of understanding with the city of La Quinta were approved by the board of directors on the consent schedule, a group of actions voted together generally without discussion.

Deputies, called school resource officers, act as law enforcement officers on school campuses. Their duties may also include advising students and parents and acting as a liaison between school staff and the attendance review committee, the probation service and other law enforcement officials.

The district plans to fund its share of officer compensation with money from the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), a fund designed to support services for low-income students, English language learners and young students with families. reception.

In its current CASL budget, the district writes, “The School Resource Officer program is an effective school law enforcement program that enhances the safety, security and tranquility of school environments and can further connect at-risk and economically disadvantaged students to services. required. Research shows that students who report feeling safe in school are more engaged in class, perform better academically, and have lower rates of truancy, truancy, and behavioral problems.

However, prominent advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have challenged the idea that school policing contributes to safe learning environments for students of color and questioned the need for police in schools.

last fall, the Palm Springs City Council voted to subsidize with city funds part of the contract for a Palm Springs School Resource Officer which was originally to be paid for with Palm Springs Unified School District LCAP funds.

A 2021 ACLU report cited that arrest rates for black students are 7.4 times higher in schools with law enforcement than in schools without and arrest rates for “Latin” students are 6.9 times higher raised in schools with law enforcement than in schools without. Their report also cites that arrest rates for students with disabilities are 4.6 times higher in schools with assigned law enforcement than in schools without.

In response to a request to know if the district collects reports about the SRO program, such as the number of criminal incidents on campus that require law enforcement action and the demographics of students involved in such incidents, DSUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Jordan Aquino, responded via email, “Day-to-day, the District relies on the SRO program to conduct joint investigations. The SROs provide incident assistance and of investigations in schools. SROs share their findings and advice with us daily. Their help is Not only are they an essential part of our community, but an essential part of our school safety program.

When PSUSD renewed school resource officer contracts with law enforcement partners last fall, he did so on the condition that the district report to the school board on the number of criminal incidents on campus that require law enforcement action and whether officers are contributing to school environments that improve student behavior, attendance and grades.

School Resource Officers who work in this district were also required to complete cultural competency training last year from National Association of School Resource Officers.

The Coachella Valley Unified School District voted against campus policing in 2018 in favor of a “restorative justice” program that aims to foster more dialogue between students, parents and staff to address the root causes of behavioral problems at mitigate any disciplinary or enforcement action taken against youth.

Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Contact him at [email protected] or @Writes_Jonathan.

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