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'We're so sad, so angry;' Students take their safety demands to Santa Rosa school board

Outrage over safety at a Santa Rosa City School Board meeting
Outrage over safety at a Santa Rosa City School Board meeting 03:31

SANTA ROSA -- The demands grew louder and filled emotion as students voiced concerns over safety in their classrooms Wednesday night at a Santa Rosa City School Board meeting.

The Santa Rosa community reeling in the wake of the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old junior Jayden Pienta, who was killed during a classroom confrontation at Montgomery High. 

The night had begun with a march through downtown Santa Rosa to the board meeting. Even though school safety wasn't on the board's agenda, the students wanted to be heard.

 "We're so sad so angry, so frustrated and so scared for our lives so we set the rest of our lives aside so we could be heard," Rosemary Cromwell told KPIX.

Many have complained about fights but last Wednesday's fatal stabbing has shaken their sense of safety on campus. 

"Following the tragedy at Montgomery there were 6 fights on our campus in one day,"  a student named Billy said. "Not only has this happened among the students, it's come to the point where our faculty is being assaulted. When our staff can't feel safe on campus, what world should our students?"

"This year at Santa Rosa High alone, 3 staff members have been assaulted by students," teacher Ashley Bell added. "I cannot remember a year that was more violent than this one."

Parents such as Amy Paris say she fears sending her kids off to school.

 "The kids aren't safe at school, my kids aren't safe at school," Paris said. "It's constant, the threats on campus, the bullying on campus, the lack of responsibility. The lack of accountability. It's scary. My kids are scared."

The students, teachers and parents at the meeting wanted the board to take action to ensure their safety. There were differences of opinion on potentially bringing back school resource officers but there was consensus that all the schools need more resources period. 

 "I think these kids are screaming," Paris said. "They're asking for help and we need to listen. It's time. We've turned a blind eye for too long. It's time."

There was quite a turnout. The boardroom was at capacity and a crowd overflowed into the courtyard. Many inspired that students from all the schools in the area are uniting to make a change. 

"At the end of the day, we are all together in this community and that division doesn't do us any good and I'm much happier now standing with other students in this district to solve the problems in our schools," Cromwell said.

Since there wasn't an item on the agenda on this issue, the board just listened to public comment but did not take action.

The board did say it would address this issue in future meetings.

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