“Officer Madrigal has been with our department for 4½ years. She has worked as a patrol officer and a detective, and she is bilingual in English and Spanish. Officer Madrigal cares deeply about serving kids in our community and has worked hard to become an expert investigator for sexual assault and gang-related cases. I know, based on her work, she will do a great job keeping our schools safe,” Ukiah Police Chief Chris Dewey said.
Officer DeLapo will be based at Ukiah High School, his alma mater, “where he does a fantastic job keeping our schools safe,” Dewey said.
Officer Madrigal will be based at Pomolita Middle School, where she will also serve Ukiah High School and Ukiah’s Unified’s elementary schools. While both officers will work with school administrators to reduce the impacts of drugs and gangs on campus and protect the safety of local students, Officer Madrigal will put more of her focus on discouraging truancy and school absences.
UUSD Superintendent Debra Kubin said the reason for hiring a second SRO is to try to lessen the potentially devastating effects of absenteeism, especially chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing at least ten percent of class time or about 18 school days per year.
“Locally, schools have implemented programs that help students become more successful in the classroom by overcoming practical and emotional barriers to learning, but students can only take advantage of these programs if they attend school regularly,” Kubin said.
She continued, “Many of us assume that if students are not sick, they are in school, but studies show otherwise. They suggest that in poor, rural areas like ours, one in four students can miss at least a month’s worth of school with devastating consequences on the future of their education.” She explained that when students get behind academically, especially in the early grades, some of them never catch up.
Thanks to a California Learning for School Success grant, a three-year grant aimed at increasing student attendance and supporting positive school climates, Officer Madrigal will be part of a team that includes a counselor, an outreach worker and a teacher. The group will work to support students and families with resources to ensure children attend school. Kubin said, “We are looking forward to partnering with the community to make every day count for our students, so they can have the best chance of success.”
Chronic absenteeism has grabbed the attention of educational professionals as well as those invested in helping students reach their potential. The website www.attendanceworks.org includes links to several articles that demonstrate the negative effects of chronic absenteeism by grade level, highlighting the critical importance of making sure students miss as little school as possible.
“We’re thrilled to have Officer Madrigal working with kids and families in the dsitrict. She will work with our family-community liaisons throughout the district to educate and encourage students and their families about the importance of attending school,” Kubin said.