BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — McFarland schools have stopped all activities and athletics events due to what administrators call an alarming increase in gang related violent crime in North Kern.
Superintendent Aaron Resendez of the McFarland Unified School District says this decision was made to protect students.
“We’ve had a number of shootings over the course of the last six to eight weeks,” Resendez said. “One of them was a fatality.”
The canceled events range from the high school’s football game, volleyball games, and the grade school’s fall festival. 17’s News tried to interview McFarland High School’s head football coach but we were turned away and told to speak with the school district instead.
This decision comes just after two people were killed in a drive-by shooting near Delano Monday. McFarland High School employees said this was the right choice to make.
“It’s very concerning,” Dacia Dhillon a counselor intern at McFarland High School said. “This hits home very dearly and so we want to make sure that the safety of the students is prioritized and hopefully school related activities will resume as soon as possible.”
The drive-by shooting is suspected to be gang related. McFarland Police Chief Kenneth Williams says McFarland is no stranger to gang activity.
“McFarland is particularly located with this issue of Northern and Southern gangs. McFarland is bifurcated by the border between those two gangs,” Williams said. “So what you get is that constant battle back and forth and it affects the City of McFarland, the City of Wasco and the City of Delano.”
While Williams said McFarland is safe locals express the opposite.
“I don’t think they’re safe,” Maria Vargas a McFarland substitute teacher said. “I don’t think they’re safe because if they’re safe then none of these things would be happening.”
Resendez said the district will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in case of gang retaliation in the area.
“We cannot do our education business if we don’t first address safety,” Resendez said. “I would rather apologize for postponing or canceling an after-school activity than apologize for not doing it and having some kind of catastrophe happen.”
McFarland school officials are erring on the side of caution but if things go smoothly school activities could be back as early as next week.