In the debate over the role of the Hesperia Unified police force, former school board member has a unique perspective. At the Aug. 1 board meeting, she called herself "living proof" of what happens when a school district does not have its own police officers.


In October 2008, Rogers was an English teacher, working at Goodwill High School, Victor Valley Union High School District's continuation high school.


"Understand, Victor Valley doesn't have a police force," she said later. "They have SROs," or Safety Resource Officers basically, contracted sheriff's deputies who will respond when called.


Rogers was teaching 43 kids in a room with 32 desks.


"I'm up at the front of the classroom," she said. "We had a little racial thing that started in the far corner. ... The first thing I did was, I picked up the phone to call security, and it didn't work."


Hoping to stop the fight from escalating and drawing in even more kids, she waded into the fray.


"I pushed my way through and grabbed" one of the participants "and pushed her back," she said. "About the same time," another student "grabbed me like a little rag doll and it was all over."


Rogers was thrown against a whiteboard and punched several times before other students were able to rescue her.


"I didn't even know who this kid was," she said. "It was just like 'she's not going to stop this.'"


Today, she has little strength in her right arm and shoulder, although she's no longer dogged by constant pain. She suffered ruptured discs and, of course, there are the emotional effects: flashbacks and nightmares.


"It's been two years now and they've lessened," Rogers said. She's been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said. "Most of the time, I'm really, really good. But you never know what's going to trigger this."


The attack ended her teaching career, which she had intended to do as long as she was physically able to.


"I always thought I would drop dead teaching" in the classroom. "It was the pleasure of my life."


Things would have been different, she said, had VVUHSD had a police force like the HUSD's.


"There could have been someone there much faster," Rogers said. "I know they could."


The presence of the HUSD police also has a proactive effect on Hesperia's campus, according to her.


"When police officers around schools, they have a presence about them. They have a calming influence."


"We have two forms of security" at the the Victor Valley Union High School District, said Herb Calderon, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. "We have SROs stationed throughout all our school sites, and we also have campus security personnel at all of our school sites."


VVUHSD has one campus security person per 250 students, he said.


The district considered having its own police force several years ago, according to Calderon, "but at that point, it was cost-prohibitive ... just to get them up and running."


Calderon would not comment specifically on Rogers' case, as it is the subject of ongoing litigation.


During Rogers' time on the HUSD school board, she presided over two round of cuts of teachers and other district staff. Each time, the board chose not to cut the district police force, which the current school board has.


"The philosophy was we were going to have a safe learning environment," she said. "Everyone was always OK with not cutting them. ... If you can't have a safe learning environment, you can't learn."


Had Rogers been reelected in 2010 she narrowly lost to fellow incumbent Hardy Black she would have found a different way to trim costs, rather than to reduce the number of officers serving the district, she said.


"I would have gone to the police department" and gotten their input on how to achieve needed cuts. "I wouldn't have arbitrarily said 'OK, we're going to do this.'"


Or she would have used the district's reserve funds meant for a rainy day to cover the cuts otherwise required for the police.


"I know this is a difficult job for the school board. Been there, done that," Rogers said. "I just know that maybe they've let personalities get into this when maybe they shouldn't."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.