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Supervisor Ellenberg tackles equity and social justice head on

 San Jose, Calif. -- Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg is presenting two proposals at the Tuesday, Aug. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting aimed at addressing issues of social justice and equity within both the education and justice systems. A third proposal was presented and unanimously approved at the Aug. 11 meeting around Racial Equity in our Healthcare System and a fourth will be presented at the September 1 meeting around meeting the needs of the children in our County’s care, either in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. 

“The COVID-19 Health Crisis has impacted all of our systems and exposed gaps both in service and equity,” said Supervisor Ellenberg. “As we work to successfully combat the virus and reopen safely, it would be a missed opportunity not to address some long standing structural conventions that have led to areas of persistent inequity in outcomes for some members of our community, largely based on race.”   

The first proposal is the culmination of an initiative spearheaded by Supervisor Ellenberg this summer that began as a response to the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and civil unrest. Ellenberg held a series of community conversations to hear what residents’ experiences with the existing public safety and justice system in the County is and how they would like to see it evolve. On Tuesday, a comprehensive report will be shared and the request for the expansion of the Community Corrections and Law Enforcement Monitoring Committee will be made. If approved, the committee, once formed, will review the 22 community recommendations for feasibility and make recommendations on implementation, ideally ahead of the 2021-22 budget. 

The second proposal, presented in partnership with Supervisor Cindy Chavez, aims at ensuring education equity during distance learning and ahead of anticipated school reopenings through clear and transparent communications with parents, teachers and the community at large around roles, jurisdictions and more. 

In addition to these three, a fourth proposal will be presented at the September 1 Board of Supervisors meeting. Ellenberg will turn the spotlight on the education and other needs of our nearly 1,000 foster and justice-involved youth under the County’s care. 

“This holistic approach to policy change and departmental reimagination is necessary because our systems, and those who rely on them, are intimately intertwined,’ Ellenberg said. 

The recommendations in the public safety and justice report provide for a significant re-envisioning of public safety that promotes greater equity and justice for all community members.  

Some of the recommended actions include: 

  • Establishing an alternative to law enforcement dispatch for calls that regard people in social and behavioral crisis rather than a crime in progress 
  • Disrupting the Schools to Prison Pipeline by removing Resource Officers from campuses 
  • Expanding Independent oversight, accountability and transparency during the investigations of law enforcement misconduct 
  • Expanding diversionary programs and community supports that keep people out of the justice system 
  • Reinvestment of funds to support vulnerable communities by establishing after-school programs, expanding community health services, and promoting greater financial and housing stability 
  • Fostering greater relationships between neighbors and amplifying the voice of community members in the decision making processes of local government 

The second proposal requests a Special Hearing on Sept. 22  for the Board and the public to learn how the County is fulfilling its mandate to provide the appropriate resources needed to support children in our local schools.  

Some of the recommended actions include: 

  • A clear delineation of the distinct responsibilities of the State and local governments, the County Office of Education, and the individual school districts specifically with regard to the CoVid response  
  • Policy and procedures around routine testing of school staff and teachers 
  • Policy and procedures around contact tracing and isolation for positive cases identified at schools 
  • Policy and procedures for support of essential workers if their child must quarantine or isolate 
  • Coordination between schools, childcare providers and extra curricular programs to limit a child’s number of contacts when moving between activities 
  • Policy and procedures regarding resumption of in-person instruction following a mandated period of quarantine or isolation 
  • Policy and procedures relating to student access to counseling or mental health support ​