Dec 152014

SAFE Asks City Council to Vote Against COPS Grant

Update: The City Council voted to accept the COPS grant.  All but one of the speakers spoke against having SROs in Schools.

Last week, Students And Families for Education (SAFE) helped defeat the proposal to spend $1.7 of the San Leandro School District’s education fund on police in schools. Tonight, the San Leandro City Council votes on accepting the COPS Grant.

In addition to requiring the city spend money on new police positions, the grant proposal lays out Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli‘s plan to use the grant money to start a program of identifying and monitoring children labeled as “at risk” by the SLPD, beginning in elementary school. SLPD also proposes to track children through social media and private messaging systems.

The money requirement of the COPS Grant will spend much of the Measure HH funds on a few police, without public transparency. This is not how the tax measure was sold to San Leandro citizens.

SAFE invites all concerned parents, students and community member to come out tonight to the City Council meeting at 7pm to express opposition to this surveillance plan and misuse of funds in San Leandro.

The following is the SLPD’s planned used for the COPS grant funds, as stated in page 10, item 14 of the COPS grant application (emphasis added):

The San Leandro Police Department is committed to improving its technology capabilities, both as it relates to monitoring and public communications. We feel strongly that it is essential to understand and use technology that our youth are reliant on in today’s expanding technological world. The four additional SRO officers would be tasked with working with the city’s technology experts to create an online system that can monitor youth from first signs of risk through the school system. As school administration and officers change, this would enable our SROs to know when to check-in with youth, engage them in positive opportunities and connect them to necessary preventive services. Our goal is to build relationships in elementary school years that last through graduation. It is essential for information to be readily available to SROs and to be able to save and monitor data/changes to enable the SRO time to interact with students and develop positive trust-based relationships. The additional SROs will the SLPD time to be actively involved in the community, identifying and discovering how to best work with and engage youth as well as the community and establishing a positive rapport. With funding, the SLPD also plans to increase its use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) to monitor youth activities as well as communicate with students and our community. We plan to utilize posts on these sites to alert the public about available activities and warn them of threats.

Dec 052014

ednotincStudents And Families for Education (SAFE), a newly-formed coalition of San Leandro parents, students and community members, will hold a rally on Tuesday, December 9th at 6pm, outside San Leandro City Hall. The rally will take place before the San Leandro School Board meeting at which the Board will vote on whether to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars from school classrooms towards paying police officers’ salaries. SAFE opposes the use of any school funds to pay for law enforcement. “San Leandro schools have been underfunded for years, class sizes have gone from 20 students to 28, and school counselors have been practically eliminated. The idea that we should be using limited resources to pay for police is simply outrageous” said Cynthia Chandler, a parent and co-founder of SAFE.

Earlier this year, the San Leandro Police Department applied for a $500,000 federal COPS grant to fund four police officers to be placed at San Leandro schools for four years. To the surprise of the community, the San Leandro police department asked the San Leandro Unified School District (SLUSD) to divert $1.7 million from its educational budget to “match” the funds from the grant. After negotiations with the City of San Leandro, the Superintendent brought to the Board a proposal that the City and School District split the cost of the grant, diverting $600,000 per year from the classroom.

“I am outraged that the school district is being asked to help fund police, and outraged that they would even consider providing this funding rather than funding the education of our children.” said Mitch Huitema, co-founder of a San Leandro volunteer-led math and science after school program and member of SAFE. “Members of our community have worked extremely hard to help our school district manage the incredible funding cuts that have occurred in recent years, from holding paper and pencil drives, to using Donors Choose to raise money for things like rugs and overhead projectors, to creating programs to help bolster projects. The school district is still not up to the funding levels it was at 10 years ago and we’re asking much more from our schools than we did then. There are so many ways this money could be used to prevent kids from the risk of getting into trouble in the first place – bringing back reasonable staffing of school counselors and restoring after school programs to the high school are just a few of the more obvious options.”

“I have yet to hear any factual justification for putting more police officers in our schools, much less for paying for more. The School District has no data on the effectiveness of the current school resource officers and research shows that having school officers in schools does not make schools safer,” said Mike Katz-Lacabe, an outgoing School Board trustee and member of SAFE, citing a 2011 study entitled “Police Officers in Schools.”

San Leandro High School currently has two school resource officers paid for by the City. According to Cathy Pickard, a recently-retired resource officer, most of her time was spent counseling students. “There is general agreement in our community that San Leandro students need as much access to qualified counselors, nurses, social workers, and other district staff who can help them with academic problems, the effects of poverty and homelessness, family violence, social pressures, and many other obstacles to their potential for success in school and in life. Despite their good intentions, most police officers do not have the specialized training necessary to properly attend to these needs. School counselors and other staff, moreover, receive much lower pay than sworn officers. Approximately two counselors can be hired, trained, and compensated for the cost of one school resource officer,” said Mark Hamilton, a counselor at Bancroft Middle School and SAFE member.

Washington Elementary student Oscar Ivy asked the San Leandro School Boards to fund school supplies, not cops.

Washington Elementary student Oscar Ivy asked the San Leandro School Boards to fund school supplies, not cops.

“We invite parents, students and community members to join us on Tuesday to let the School Board know that we need to put education ahead of incarceration. We should be striving to educate, not criminalize our youth,” said Chandler.

Anyone opposed to the COPS grant is also encouraged to speak at the School Board meeting, which starts at 7 PM, and/or to e-mail the School Board.

The rally will take place in front of San Leandro City Hall, on Tuesday, December 9th at 6pm.

Note:  Students, Parents and Community Members are welcome to join SAFE. To subscribe to the googlegroup, please send an e-mail to:

For more information, press inquiries, please contact Cynthia Chandler at  (510) 325-4127 or Mike Katz-Lacabe at 510-207-7165.