The Palo Alto school board discussed Tuesday a revised memorandum of understanding with the police department that no longer includes four sections that community members worried could disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities and mental illness.
The memorandum no longer includes four previously added sections on protocols for involuntary psychiatric holds, use of handcuffs on students during a medical transport, on-campus student searches and confidentiality with regards to reports to Child Protective Services.
The proposed memorandum of understanding first came to the board in August with changes meant to improve the district and police department's response to reports of sexual violence, but drew concern from parents about these other new services.
"Anecdotally, HUR (historically underrepresented) students seem to be more vulnerable to profiling and mistreatment in their interactions with PAPD," Sara Woodham, co-chair of advocacy group Parent Advocates for Student Success, wrote in an email to the school board in August.
School board members had urged staff in August to engage more proactively with community groups including Parent Advocates for Student Success, which represents minority students and families, on any further revisions.
Staff and the police department agreed to remove the four new sections entirely from the revised document, which the board will vote on at its next regular meeting in December.
Parent Advocates for Student Success has pressed the district to require the police department to regularly provide data on school resource officers' interactions with students, as is recommended by the American Civil Liberties Union. Some trustees agreed on Tuesday but said this falls outside the bounds of a contract, asking staff to instead look into collecting this data.
President Ken Dauber said he wants the district to be notified of and track every incident in which a school resource officer exercises his or her "police power" with a student. Because school resource officers are a constant, familiar presence at schools, this creates a comfort level that can lead to unintentional policy violations, Dauber said.
"The first step in that is to be notified whenever those powers are actually exercised on campus so we can understand whether procedures were followed in that particular case," he said. "That to me seems to be an area of particular vulnerability."
The memorandum of understanding's new section on sexual violence remains the same. It clarifies how the two bodies should communicate when sexual misconduct involving students, teachers and/or staff is reported.
"It is important for the PAUSD to clarify its working relationship with the PAPD to ensure an effective, prompt, coordinated, and fair response to sexual misconduct," the agreement states. "The purpose of this MOU is to coordinate PAUSD and PAPD processes in response to reported sexual misconduct and to increase collaboration when such matters arise."
The proposed contract runs through June 30, 2020, with the option for a one-year extension.