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Citrus Heights police respond to assault reports at Mesa Verde High School

File photo, Mesa Verde High School is located 7501 Carriage Drive, in Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

By Sara Beth Williams–
Amid the start of the school year, multiple assault reports at Mesa Verde High School have appeared in recent police logs.

According to Citrus Heights Police Department logs, two separate assaults at Mesa Verde were reported, one on Aug. 24 and another on Aug. 31. In response to a Sentinel inquiry, Police Operations Division Commander Kris Frey said the first assault reported on the morning of Aug. 24 actually occurred on campus the day before and was a late report to police, causing it to show up a day afterward in the logs.

Lieut. Nicole Garing also confirmed via email that two Mesa Verde students were involved in a “physical altercation” on Aug. 23 and that neither student required medical attention. She said the district’s Safe Schools staff and Mesa Verde were handling the incident at an administrative level and that criminal charges were not pursued by either party involved. The time of the incident on Aug. 23 was not indicated and no arrests were reported.

The second incident also referenced an assault that occurred earlier, Frey said. A parent came to the lobby of the Police Department to report that an assault had occurred against her son by another student at the high school, where the student allegedly was “pushed and punched” by another student. The parent requested to have an officer speak with the other student’s guardians, and Frey confirmed that an officer contacted the parent of the second involved student to discuss the incident.

No arrests were reported in either incident.

In what appears to have been a third incident that did not involve police, San Juan Unified School District Director of Communications Raj Rai confirmed in an email that a fight occurred at Mesa Verde High School on Aug. 24 during lunch between two students. Rai confirmed that school staff broke up the fight, issued appropriate discipline, and that to district knowledge law enforcement was not involved.

In August, police logs also show officers responded to several alarm calls and 911 hangups coming from Mesa Verde High School. No similar calls appear in the logs from San Juan High School during August, but an earlier incident in March drew media attention when a parent came on the campus and attacked a 17-year-old student inside a classroom.

Related: Vice mayor urges funding for officers at Citrus Heights high schools

The Citrus Heights City Council has been in recent discussion on whether to fund the placement of a law enforcement officer on each high school campus to enhance safety and security. Police Chief Alex Turcotte last month estimated an overall startup cost of $250,000 and an annual cost of $340,000 which would cover the salaries of two full-time police officers, and other necessary equipment costs.

Some council members have indicated the responsibility is on the school district to address safety, while the city’s mayor and vice mayor have said proactive placement of officers on campuses is necessary to help deter violence. Consideration of funding will be discussed at a future council meeting.

Turcotte said a total of 24 incidents required a law enforcement response during school hours amid the 2022-23 school year, while there were over 300 behavioral-related incidents that did not require a law enforcement response during school hours.

As previously reported, the school district is currently investing $10 million district-wide to enhance school safety, including fencing upgrades, surveillance system upgrades, and hiring of more staff.

Related: What is SJUSD doing to increase safety at Citrus Heights schools?

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