United States

Proposed Dublin High School Site Near Santa Rita Jail Rejected

A proposal to open a second high school in Dublin that has drawn the ire of parents because of the site's proximity to the Santa Rita Jail was rejected by school trustees late Tuesday night.

Under the proposal, the school would have been built at the property currently being leased by Carl Zeiss Meditec, located at the intersection of Hacienda Drive and Gleason Drive, which is less than half a mile from the jail where the majority of people arrested in Alameda County end up.

More than 400 parents and concerned residents showed up to Tuesday night's school board meeting to argue that the proposed site wouldn't be safe, with cell blocks a half-mile from classrooms and newly released inmates near campus daily.

"You would only need like one incident to happen, it goes down the drain," parent Piyush Shastri said. "So why would we even send our kids there?"

Jeff, another parent who did not want to provide his last name, agreed.

"Why would you put a high school across from a (jail) that's the fifth-largest (jail) in the United States releasing inmates throughout the day, dozens of inmates every week, people that are sex offenders, basically former criminals being released into the enviroment where are kids are," he said.

A Dublin Unified School District official said trustees have "heard those concerns." The district said it's the best location and the most affordable, more than $100 million cheaper than other properties they studied. And they said it's safe.

"We have an elementary school that's located about a tenth of a mile from ... the Carl Zeiss site where the high school would be," district spokeswoman Michelle McDonald said. "It's been there for 15 years. We've never had any issues at the elementary school.

"We are able to purchase this land with a building already on it," McDonald added. "Parking lots, infrastructure, streets and things at a price that allows us to stay within our budget of the bond measure this community passed."

Roughly 4,000 inmates are housed at the Santa Rita Jail, according to the Alameda County Sheriff's Department. That number makes the jail the third-largest facility in the state and fifth-largest in the country.

The Zeiss site was chosen from a lengthy list of potential school locations because of its affordability and the fact that infrastructure is already available in the building. The expected cost to turn the office park into a high school was $110 million.

In partnership with the Dublin Police Department, district officials recently found that crime is actually low near the area around the jail.

"We've done our due diligence," McDonald said. "We've been in consultation with Alameda County sheriffs and we've done some crime data research and we're not finding that that area is a high crime area at all."

NBC Bay Area's Peggy Bunker contributed to this report.

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