A new gang-prevention program taught by police officers in San Leandro is not sitting well with some parents and students.
The program was approved Tuesday by the San Leandro Unified School District Board of Education. Prior to the meeting at city hall, students and parents protested outside and urged trustees to vote against the federally-funded program.
"We're here to learn math and science, stuff like that," fifth-grader Oscar Ivy said. "Not how to stay out of gangs."
Oscar's school could be next for a gang-prevention program taught by San Leandro police. The program is a six-hour course over six weeks that will be taught to fifth graders in the district.
Students will have the option to opt out of the six-week course. The district is still trying to determine where students who choose to opt out would go.
Police said there was no specific case that prompted the idea for the gang-prevention program.
"We don't have a gang problem because of the fact that we're proactive," Lt. Robert McManus said. "We get out in the community. We introduce programs like this with our youth."
But parents said the program wastes valuable teaching time and gives officers too much power.
"They can approach children at all times a day, including lunch, recess or what have you," parent Cynthia Chandler said.
Inside the school board meeting, the public comment was mixed.
The board voted unanimously to test the program at two elementary schools in the district.
"They will know right from wrong at the age of fifth grade," McManus said. "And that's what we're hoping to do here."