LOS ALTOS — Months after downtown exploded in protest over the police killing of George Floyd, city council members voted to end the school resource officer program at Los Altos High School amid rising clamor for reform among educators, staff and students.

Council members unanimously accepted the recommendations of a task force put together at the beginning of the summer to reevaluate the city’s SRO program and its citizen complaint mechanisms. The move comes as other cities and school districts across the Bay Area reevaluate the role of police and examine their impact on young people.

Los Altos follows in the footsteps of Oakland, San Francisco, San Rafael and San Mateo schools, districts that have also taken steps to increase mental health support Black and brown students and introduce new restorative justice programs and practices. Mayor Jan Pepper said Tuesday she was convinced Los Altos had to join the growing number of Bay Area communities taking these steps.

“I don’t think it should be wishy-washy, we are not going to do (the program) anymore,” she said. “To me, the testimony we heard is very compelling and we need to take that step.”

The nine-member task force — which over several months heard testimony from concerned residents, police officers and members of the school community — voted 7-2 to eliminate the program based on its ineffectiveness, said task force member Renee Rashid.

Rashid said during the council meeting Tuesday that the school district relies on regular police officers more than its designated school resource officer. She said of the 475 calls to service police got from local schools between 2015 and 2020, the SRO responded 13% of the time while the other 87% of calls were responded to by regular LAPD officers.

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Rashid also said that the chances of having an SRO “at the right place and right time is very small” and the task force found that their presence at Los Altos High has “no positive impact… on school safety.” She added that the task force’s conclusion is that while the SRO has no effect on school safety, “they have detrimental effects on students feeling safe.”

“Rather than making students feel safe, they do the opposite,” Rashid said. “They criminalize student behavior and increase fear, especially among Black students. It can cause lower test scores and lead to racial inequalities. Adults already on campus — teachers, counselors, coaches, tutors and mentors — are the best people suited for building positive relationships with students. We don’t need an SRO to do this.”