Hart district, sheriff’s station quash rumor about ending student resource officer program

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: School resource officer Tom Drake supervises as Saugus High School students break for lunch on Friday, August 25, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Both the William S. Hart Union High School District and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station are quashing a rumor that erroneously stated the two would be ending the school resource officers, or SRO’s, program.

Hart district Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said he had heard the rumor himself and contacted SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez to confirm with him that it was not true.

The Hart district, for a number of years, has had a contract with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the SCV Sheriff’s Station to provide SROs to schools within the district. The $1,095,327 contract between the Sheriff’s Department and the Hart district, signed for the 2019/20 school year, provided for 5.5 deputies to serve as school resource officers.

Each deputy is assigned to two to three schools within the Hart district, and provides safety and other services for their respective campuses.

Kuhlman said he is confident the district will continue its partnership with the Sheriff’s Station once students return and deputies are needed once again on campuses.

“Given that we have this unique start to the school year, the county enabled the school districts with SRO’s to temporarily pause the contract with the SRO,” said Kuhlman. “Which means that we’re not currently paying SROs and they’re not assigned to campuses.”

However, this does not mean the deputies were fired, but that the county has been footing the bill for school districts, who are working with “tight budgets” during the pandemic, said Kuhlman.

“These deputies are still working with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station,” said Kuhlman. “As soon as we know that we are returning to school with students, we will reinitiate the contract.”

Confirming Kuhlman’s statements, Shirley Miller, a spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, said Friday that the deputies who were assigned to schools have been temporarily reassigned to patrol, and other duties, until the students “return back to regular, in-classroom learning” and not distance learning.

The district, before school begins, will need to give the station and county two weeks’ notice before reopening, giving the deputies time to resume their duties on school campuses, Kuhlman said..

“We have such an outstanding relationship with SROs and the support they provide is essential,” said Kuhlman. “And I have no plan to suggest a reduction in their support.”

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