24 Jun Black Students and Community Organizations Push LAUSD to Invest $56.7 Million to Expand Black Student Achievement
After months of pressure by Black students, parents, teachers, and community members the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education voted on June 22 to invest $56.7 million in expanding the Black Student Achievement Plan. This funding is in addition to an earlier vote which resulted in a $25 million dollar cut from the LA School Police Department (LASPD) and a nearly $40 million investment into Black student achievement in February. This vote means that in the last 6 months community pressure has pushed LAUSD to commit a total of nearly $100 million to support services for Black students – who have been disproportionately targeted by school police – and reimagining school safety. This investment reaffirms a long-standing community demand for Counselors not Cops, and is yet another step towards replacing school police with more effective strategies for student safety. While an amendment to close $4 million in vacancies in the LASPD budget did not pass, the Police Free LAUSD Coalition remains committed to fighting for a full elimination of LASPD and reimagination of school safety.
“It’s historic for LAUSD to be showing this much attention and this much-deserved care to its Black students,” said Sierra Leone Anderson, an incoming sophomore at Girls Academic Leadership Academy and leader with Students Deserve. “I’m proud of the Black youth who led a path toward this victory. I’m humbled to be among them, but I will not be satisfied with this district until the LA School Police are FULLY defunded. Until they stop funneling money into criminalizing systems and start funding support services, mentorships, after-school programs, PSWs, and more to secure the futures of Black students.”
These funds will bolster the Black Student Achievement Plan (BSAP), a multi-faceted initiative that aims to foster positive learning environments that prevent Black and Brown students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline. The BSAP targets resources at schools with the highest need based on factors including the number of Black students, and other measures of academic, social & emotional wellness. Resources going to these schools include Counselors, School Climate Coaches & other personnel who support the implementation of care-first restorative justice practices. The coalition also celebrated another victory earlier this month when the School Board voted unanimously to support funding for existing Community Schools and add 30 more schools over the next 3 years, with an emphasis on schools covered by the Black Student Achievement Plan. The expansion of the program will extend the reach and impact of the Community Schools model to more students at more school sites across the District, and continue to bring transformative changes and shared decision-making to school-sites.
“This investment in Black student achievement is an extremely important victory and should be met with joy and appreciation, but the District has a historic problem with following through on systemic change for Black students. Far too often, Black students are saddled with racist low expectations, labeled “disruptive”, segregated in classrooms, excluded from college and career opportunities, and ultimately targeted for push out,” said Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, LAUSD Parent, and Founder of the Women’s Leadership Project. “In order to make this successful for the long term, we must see comprehensive, community-led intervention with engagement of Black parents, students, educators, and youth-serving organizations.”
Out of the additional $56.7 million investment into the Black Student Achievement Plan, nearly $20 million will go towards the implementation of Community Based Safety Pilot programs. This is a step forward towards fully reimagining school safety without police – including community-based safe passage programs; violence prevention, intervention and de-escalation models; peace-building initiatives; restorative practices and more. Black and Brown, students, parents and community members in LAUSD remain bold in their commitment and vision for a Police Free LAUSD.
“The Black Student Achievement Plan has laid the foundation for what is needed for Police Free Schools. Huge shoutout to the School Board members who voted yes to invest in Black student achievement,” said David Turner, organizer, and Manager of the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition. “We need and will continue to build the political and community power to eliminate the LA School Police department and fully reimagine and implement non-punitive models of school safety.”
The Police Free LAUSD Coalition is composed of community organizations in LAUSD and across L.A. County working toward re-imagining school safety and removing police from campuses. The coalition includes Students Deserve, Black Lives Matter – LA, Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, Reclaim Our Schools LA, Community Coalition, Labor/Community Strategy Center, the Social Justice Learning Institute, InnerCity Struggle, CADRE, UTLA, and more.