More than a month after the city and school district said they would move immediately to double Berkeley High’s safety officer force, there are still no new officers on the campus.
A series of fights and assaults at Berkeley High earlier this spring, culminating in an incident that led to the arrest of five Berkeley High students, prompted the pledge that several new safety measures would be instituted at the school.
Negotiations with a number of private security firms broke down early last week when the companies indicated that they were simply not comfortable having their personnel work on a high school campus, said Berkeley High Principal Frank Lynch. Lynch said the companies cited concerns about liability.
“We’re going to try to explore other possibilities,” Lynch said. But he added that, with just a handful of days left in the school year, it may make more sense to “focus on next year.”
At this point, Lynch said he would be happy to see just a few full-time people added to the school’s seven person safety staff next year.
Berkeley Interim Superintendent Stephen Goldstone attributed the difficulties in finding more safety officers, in part, to a tight job market.
“It’s been a great disappointment that we haven’t been able to secure the people we wanted to secure,” he said.
At least one of the new security measures proposed in April has been implemented, Lynch said. Students can now call a 24-hour hotline to leave anonymous tips relating to incidents of violence at the school. The number is 644-6208.
Lynch said school safety staff and police have completed an investigation into the assaults that occurred earlier this year. One of the students arrested in April pled guilty to charges of assault in court Thursday, he said, and two others are scheduled to appear in court soon.
Lynch also said there have been no serious assaults on campus since April. “From the time that those kids were arrested, things have mellowed out,” Lynch said. “There’s still stuff, but nothing like that.”