The San Diego Unified School District added a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to its fleet this week in a controversial move causing some board trustees to question the district’s priorities. “We’re a school district, we’re about education,” said School board trustee Scott Barnett, “The symbol of having an armored vehicle in the district is not the message we want to send to schools.”
SDUSD received the $710,000 vehicle through the 1033 Program, a government initiative to redistribute surplus military equipment. Through the program, the district was only responsible for the $5,000 shipping cost. Chief of San Diego Unified’s police force, Rueben Littlejohn, defends the acquisition, “The vehicle has been stripped of all offensive equipment and it’s been re-purposed for humanitarian purposes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Cindy Marten, who approved the grant, is doing her best to reassure skeptics by promoting the vehicle as a “safe haven on wheels.”