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Does Hercules Need More School Cops?

Hercules is the only city in the West Contra Costa Unified School District with only one district-funded police officer.

Since the start of the school year, police in Hercules have been called to Hercules Middle/High School 161 times, the Contra Costa Times reports.

The figure is significant not only because the Hercules Police Department has eight fewer officers than it used to, but because Hercules is the only city in the West Contra Costa Unified School District with only one district-funded police officer, the Times reported.

Pinole and other cities in the district each have two officers at their schools.

The talk about school resource officers was part of a larger discussion about school safety during this week's joint meeting between the Hercules City Council and the district board of education.

The school board reportedly offered a solution during the Tuesday meeting:

School board President Madeline Kronenberg and Superintendent Bruce Harter promised to try to take care of that problem immediately by bringing a vote to approve funding an extra officer at the school board's Feb. 6 meeting.

If the district chooses to fund another officer for schools in Hercules, it wouldn't be alone: President Barack Obama this week directed the Department of Justice to provide grants to fund 1,000 more school cops around the nation.

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Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the number of times police have received calls from Hercules Middle/High School. Patch regrets the error.

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Readers, what do you think? Are Hercules schools short on police protection? Tell us your thoughts on school safety in the comments below.

Patty O'Day January 18, 2013 at 04:10 PM
I would like to know why the police were called 181 times since September to one school. What were they called for?
Kim January 18, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Yes, I would like to know why as well! I have a 6th grader attending the school and am completely unaware of issues that would require police.
Cody Kitaura (Editor) January 18, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Hi folks, it looks like I listed the number incorrectly - it's actually 161, according to the Contra Costa Times. Sorry about that. The Times also says 45 of the calls were because of fights on campus.
Kim January 18, 2013 at 04:47 PM
DEFINITELY.
Abbe January 18, 2013 at 05:47 PM
This story doesn't tell us the average calls and what the district funded police do at the other schools compared to Hercules.
Patty O'Day January 18, 2013 at 06:59 PM
So, that is still a lot of police calls for a middle school, in my opinion. Is it possible for you to find out more details? I think this is something most parents would like to know. Did the 45 fights include weapons? Were there any injuries?
Cody Kitaura (Editor) January 19, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Kim, Patty and Abbe, very good questions. I'll see if we can get more info soon. Thanks.
Giorgio C. January 19, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Here are some district and school suspension(S) and expulsion(E) rates for 2008-9, 2009-10, and 2010-11 respectively. The rate is computed by dividing the total number of incidents (suspensions or expulsions) by the total enrollment, and then multiplying by 100. District (S) average: 34, 21, 24 District (E) average: 0.4, 0.5, 0.5 Hercules High: (S) 33, 10, 25 (E) 0.8, 1.5, 1.4 Hercules Middle: (S) 99, 39, 42 (E) 0.7, 1.02, 1.4 Pinole High: (S) 35, 46, 31 (E) 1.3, 1.3, 2.0 Pinole Middle: (S) 82, 77, 80 (E) 0.8, 0.9, 1.0 Richmond High: (S) 81, 32, 61 (E) 0.4, 0.2, 0.6 Portola Middle: (S) 69, 91, 43 (E) 0.4, 0.5, 0 El Cerrito High: (S) 37, 31, 36 (E) 1, 0.3, 1.6 Hercules Middle-High School recently had a policy that suspended a student for 3 days if they skipped one class. The current principal says this policy is no longer in place. So when do they suspend? When do they call the police? The WCCUSD has announced they will decrease # of suspensions. How many of these calls to the police resulted in suspensions this year? How many such police calls were made each year in the past 5 years? The parents and children should be promising to reduce suspensions, not the school. Kudos to Councilman Romero for advocating the Restorative Justice program. http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf/BARJ/SCHOOL%20BARJ%20GUIDEBOOOK.pdf I support an additional SRO as long as this isn't a substitute for common sense policies.
Giorgio C. January 22, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Maybe one principal for two schools is a bad idea. Add the fact that this is a new principal, correct? Their first job as principal is one that includes taking the helm for two schools? Hercules Middle-High School has one principal, two HS assistant principals and one middle school assistant principal. I do know that an experienced, competent assistant principal can make a difference. How are these assistant principals doing? When a teacher excessively relies on the use of referral notices to keep their students in check, they are sometimes downgraded for not having control over their students. Could this many calls to the police be signaling that this principal is having a difficult time managing their 2 schools? Is she being set up for failure? Vandalism, fights, the fire resulting from a science experiment and a teacher arrested with marijuana are a few examples of what this principal is facing. Maybe Hercules Middle School should have its own principal for the reason that each school needs a leader. Middle school principals can make a huge difference for both a school and a community. Just look at what Principal Burnham did for Portola Middle School. He has attained hero status. He has quelled disruptions. He has worked with the community, including now trustee Todd Groves, to introduce a math initiative. Most middle schools have one dedicated, accountable leader. Maybe Hercules should, too. Has this ever been considered?
Giorgio C. January 23, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Hercules parents, We need to take ownership of this problem now.
Giorgio C. January 31, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Is it a coincidence that our previous mayor asked for an SRO, and then soon after, the school beginning calling the police in unrelenting fashion, generating data points for justifying the hiring of another officer? I hope that is not what happened. To rule this out, we can review the handling of similar incidents in previous years. Did they result in calls to the police? Or did this school actually have an uptick in unruly behavior?
Laloba Solitaria February 21, 2013 at 09:10 PM
The district has an ironclad (new) policy. To teachers: DO NOT send anyone to the office with a referral. This means that you (teacher) can't control your class and by writing a referral you have lost all credibility and you are a bad teacher. Deal with the disruptors on your own, in your own class. We will send the kid(s) back.----This lack of responsibility on the part of the District Administration is aimed at blaming the teacher for a kid's horrible behavior. Bad school behavior stems from issues that began LONG before said unruly, disrespectful, kid set foot in the teacher's classroom...Hence, people suffer; the teacher can't teach, the kids can't learn with a loud, offensive, student constantly disrupting learning. Test scores reflect this stupid policy. "Political Correctness" taken to the extreme in order to keep statistics of suspensions and expulsions low.This false picture is designed to protect a particular ethnic group largely responsible for the mayhem in the classroom. The District intimidates teachers who want to teach. Nice kids can't learn because of the constant cursing, disrespect, hostile attitude, etc. 161 calls to the police tells me nothing will happen to them, and that they are in control of the hellish atmosphere that they, with the help of the DISTRICT have created. Teachers with 0 support have become glorified babysitters for thugs and can't do their real jobs. The rest of the kids, nice kids, don't matter. Again, false statistics.

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