Information provided by the Hollister School District.
The Hollister School District has embarked on the process of working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, according to a recent release.
On Aug. 25, 2020, the district passed Resolution #4-20/21 regarding school safety and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. The district has partnered with Youth Alliance, a 501c3 nonprofit social justice leadership organization serving youth and families in San Benito and Santa Clara counties, in conducting this work.
The release states that a newly formed Parent Alliance began meeting with HSD Superintendent Diego Ochoa, district staff, and the Board of Trustees.
“The advocacy and leadership shown by Youth Alliance and their Parent Alliance has been instrumental in prioritizing the work. I feel fortunate to have them as partners,” Ochoa said.
The district states that the partnership has led to many positive changes, such as Spanish translation at school board meetings, adding in additional mental health counselors at the schools, and the most recent resolution to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. The school district has committed to addressing prior harsh school discipline that has disproportionately impacted students in need and students of color.
Starting last October, the district and Youth Alliance jointly launched a process to reimagine safety practices and to transform school culture. The School Discipline and Equity Task Force has begun working to address safety practices, transform school culture, and work to create anti-racist practices in the Hollister School District. The resolution eliminated funding for the on-campus school resource officers and directed the district to launch the task force.
The district stated that it is committed to partnering with the community in reimagining a transformative vision for school safety to create safe, healthy and welcoming school environments and develop a new district-wide safety plan. The vision for these changes is grounded in the values of racial equity and racial justice.
The task force has the responsibility of recommending how to reallocate funds previously used for school resource officers toward student support positions such as school-based social workers, psychologists, restorative justice practitioners, or other mental or behavioral health professionals. The task force is also charged with recommending a revised district safety plan with strategies for enhancing student learning, safety, and well-being.
“YA’s contribution will be to support our parent and community leaders in expanding and deepening their impact, engaging the community, and working as co-conveners with the HSD towards systemic change that makes progress towards the fulfillment of dignity, quality education, and participation,” said Youth Alliance Executive Director Diane Ortiz.
Ochoa said, “Our Director of Student Services Kip Ward has been our chief architect of the task force process. The work that has already taken place will transform our school cultures. I believe that within years, HSD will become a model district in implementing anti-racist practices. The future is very bright.”