SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) The Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) board of trustees voted to remove school resource officers from all high school campuses Wednesday night.
Antonia Torres, a Watsonville High School junior, said, and many other classmates, she tuned in to every one of the district's board meeting this summer.
"I have seen a few occurrences where our SRO wasn't necessarily treating other students with the respect that I wanted an adult to treat students with. I just knew something had to change," said Torres.
Pajaro Valley Unified School District took part in the national conversation that calls for police reform and defunding. Superintendent, Michelle Rodriguez, said their three school resource officers cost the district $450,000 in 2019.
"As you know, California schools are significantly underfunded. We needed to look at how we are using those funds and decide if we were using them in the best way for our students," said Rodriguez.
The district plans to redirect funding to provide students with mental health resources. Rodriguez said Watsonville, Pajaro Valley and Aptos high schools will hire a new counselor.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office and Watsonville Police Department worked with the district to provide security and support on campus. Watsonville plants reassign their school resource officers to daily patrols.
"You definitely get that red carpet treatment when you have someone onsite who is familiar with their proceeds, policies and culture of that particular school," said Watsonville Assistant Chief of Police, Tom Sims.
Sims said he still plans to advocate for youth and police relationships, regardless of the district's decision.