A San Diego Unified School Board trustee said Thursday he considers the district’s acquisition of an armored vehicle a “misguided priority.”
School Board Trustee Scott Barnett said the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle is not something the district should have in its fleet.
“We’re a school district, we’re about education,” he said.
"Yes we do need to protect our kids but I believe this vehicle - armred vehicle - is misguided and does not represent what the district wants to put out there as the symbol of our district."
SDUSD accepted the $710,000 MRAP as part of a program to distribute vehicles left over after withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq. The only cost would be shipping the vehicle from Texas to San Diego (estimated to be $1,000 to $4,700).
According to an internal memo sent to SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten from the district’s police chief, cost of maintaining the School Police Student Rescue Vehicle would range from $500 to $1,000 annually.
The second largest school district in the state of California has a fleet of approximately 1,000 vehicles ranging from school buses to maintenance and delivery trucks.
According to Barnett, SDUSD has no plan for replacing its aging vehicles including 10 of the district's police cruisers that each has over 130,000 miles.
Through the grant, SDUSD cannot sell the MRAP but Barnett proposed leasing the armored vehicle to local police and using the money to fund new school police cars.
San Diego Unified School Police Chief Rueben Littlejohn says leasing the MRAP to other law enforcement agencies would counteract the benefit of owning it.
“In an active shooter situation this vehicle, which is bulletproof, would be backed up to a classroom door as close as possible and officers would usher students and teachers into the vehicle and get them out of harm's way as quickly as possible,” Chief Littlejohn said.
He believes if school police had to wait for its arrival, it would not be useful in an emergency situation.
Barnett said the plan to accept the MRAP was not discussed with the board or listed on a board agenda. He said he first learned of the plan through a post on Facebook.
“This is an issue that the school board would have been interested in at least knowing about and, I believe, discussing and determining whether or not this is something we want in our fleet,” Barnett said.
In his opinion, the district should have waited to accept the grant until school officials had the chance to see results of a two-year review of the district's security needs. That report is scheduled to be released Sept. 23.