LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Union High School District’s Board majority awarded K12 Secure a $48,500 contract at Thursday night’s meeting.
Board President Robert “Bob” Davis sought to keep public testimony focused on the contract and not the vendor. K12 Secure is a new company started by Bruce Frank, one of Davis’ former co-workers from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Davis, Board Vice President Victoria Ruffin and Clerk Amanda Parrell voted in favor of the contract. Trustees Jill McGrady and John Rush voted no.
The agreement went back before the Board with “specific, delineated terms necessary for a contract,” according to district officials. The previous proposal was approved before it could be properly vetted by district staff.
According to the contract, K12 Secure will charge the district $10,400 for 80 hours’ work that includes a “gap analysis” with a policy and procedure review, interviews with district employees, and a physical security audit of all district facilities. Frank will charge the district a further $7,800 for 60 hours’ work for a “policy and procedure development,” where Frank proposes to consult with an administrative representative regarding the findings of the gap analysis.
Community member Rod Penner asked during the public comment period whether they can expect the gap analysis to be completely neutral and not support Davis’ predetermined concerns.
“Why wouldn’t you want to know that your car is not running correctly? There might be something there that you may not have seen,” Davis said.
Penner asked what happens if the analysis comes back with no major issues or concerns.
“Then you know what? I’ll apologize all day long,” Davis said.
Penner asked whether there was training component to the contract.
Davis said no. He said Frank removed it from the previous proposal, which originally topped out at $62,240.
In fact, there is a training component worth up to $22,500 listed on the contract. The training is contingent upon the outcome of tasks No. 2 and 3, according to the contract.
“If there are no major issues or concerns as a result of this analysis, will you remove that training component in an effort to save money for the district?” Penner said.
“We’ll look at that further. I will; I’ll check that out,” Davis said.
Penner also cited concerns that the K12 Secure contract was the beginning of an effort to replace the district’s security personnel.
“Will you publicly state that there is no intent now, or in the future, to replace the district’s security personnel with a private security contract, which would be very lucrative?” Penner said.
Davis noted the district recently reclassified all of its security personnel.
“They do an awesome job and I support them 100%,” Davis said.
In fact, Davis voted against the reclassification at the Feb. 14 meeting. The Board voted 3-2 to reclassify its directors of campus security as directors of school site safety in recognition of their additional responsibilities. Ruffin also voted against the proposal.
Penner agreed that the district’s security personnel do a great job. But he asked Davis to publicly state that the K12 Secure contract was not the beginning of an attempt to replace the district’s security personnel.
“You’re not going to box me into a corner,” Davis said.
Davis cited the shooting last May at Highland High School in which a student was injured in the arm.
Penner, a retired law enforcement officer with 32 years’ experience, said that you cannot 100% guarantee against incidents, or a shooting, occurring despite the technology and other protocols in place.
Davis agreed, but said you can reduce the risk factors.
“My major concern is that there’s not going to be any attempt to try to replace district security,” Penner said.
Davis later acknowledged Penner’s concerns and said it is a stretch of the imagination that the district would replace its security personnel.
McGrady asked that the contract be voted on separately from the rest of the consent agenda.
McGrady held up a larger binder that each Board member received that contains the district’s comprehensive school safety plan.
The book includes a review of the district’s policies and procedures as well as state Education Code. McGrady cited a safety presentation by Kristina Ramos, director of Personnel Services, at the Feb. 14 meeting. She also talked about campus safety walks conducted last year. All of those items, she said, are what Frank proposes do to through the K12 Secure contract.
“If we still felt like he needed to do that we’ve already done all the work for him,” McGrady said.
AV Union High School District would be K12 Secure’s first client, she noted.
If safety is truly a concern, McGrady said, and there needs to be other eyes looking at what the district is doing, then why doesn’t the district go out to bid and find a company with a proven record.
Davis likened K12 Secure’s analysis of the district’s security policies and procedures to an accreditation through the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, though it is not clear what value a K12 Secure evaluation would hold.
Student trustee Noah Sveiven said there are important distinctions between WASC and K12 Secure.
‘WASC is an organization that we need to have a stamp of approval of, but K12 is a non-necessary expenditure,” Sveiven said.
Sveiven also noted there is a lack of trust for the proposal.
“No amount of alleged fear can overcome that absence of trust,” Sveiven said.
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