School board meeting gives parents chance to voice their concerns over students’ safety

“It is heartbreaking."
Kern High School District
Posted at 9:42 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 11:17:15-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — In a two-hour Kern High School District Board Meeting Monday, parents were prepared to call for action and accountability for two separate incidents at two Kern High School District schools.

The meeting as usual opened up with public comment, the only difference was the dozens of concerned community members who came to speak after they saw videos online made them question the safety of kids in schools.

“Security guards and police officers are supposed to make us feel safe,” said Daniela Lopez, KHSD student.

In hopes to make their voices heard concerned students, parents and community members asked the Kern High School District Board of Trustees for change.

"Students need to feel safe and protected at schools, not terrorized," said Executive Director of Dolores Huerta foundation, Camila Chavez.

“I am asking you to really take the time to stop and think, what if this was your child,” said Monica Guerra, community member.

Retired High School Teacher Jennifer Lap says all students need to feel safe.

“We have to balance out the safety of all of the children on campus. The tough thing is what goes around on social media is a snippet of what happens in the larger context,” said Lap.

This is in response to videos of two separate incidents, the first taken at East Bakersfield High School on February 9 shows two security officers restraining a student. One is seen holding a student down with his knees and at Stockdale High School on February 15, video shows KHSD officers taking a student to the ground.

"The priority of the district should be keeping its students safe. A way to contribute to that is giving proper training to our security staff to help us deescalate situations where there will be no reason for force to be used. With this training alone, our security will have better tactics to deal with teens," said student Natalie Medrano Baltovar.

At the end of the meeting, the board members complimented the students who spoke to the board about topics important to them.

"Regardless of what the subject matter was, our students that came up here and spoke, spoke very well an that says a lot about what we're doing in the Kern High School District in terms of educating our students," said president Cynthia Brakeman.

While none of them directly acknowledged the issues involving KHSD officers and security, student board member Ana Herron says that security and counselors are reliable at her high school and that should be improved everywhere.

“It is heartbreaking to hear that not all schools have that outlet, as well as proper security, we do have a security guard Gary whose out on surgery but everyone at Centennial knows Gary we respect him and we love him and he tells us everyday to eat our vegetables and have a wonderful day he’s a great man and that’s the kind of security students deserve on campus.”

Kern High School District's next board meeting is April 4th.