01 Jul LAUSD to Invest $25 Million in Its Black Students
Yesterday, the L.A. Board of Education voted to reduce $25 million from its Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD)—its independent law enforcement agency. It has also ordered all 460 LASPD officers off campuses and out of uniform until a task force can be convened to conduct a detailed assessment of the largest school policing department in the country. The decision comes one week after L.A. Unified School Board Members’ refused to act on the demands of students, parents, and community activists to defund school police. At the June 23rd board meeting, thousands called for LASPD to be completely eliminated so that funding could be reallocated to mental health professionals, smaller class sizes, and college prep counselors.
Over 17,000 people sent emails to each of the seven board members demanding divestment from the school police department. Approximately 70 organizations signed letters in support of Board Member Monica Garcia’s resolution that reduced the school police budget by 90% over three years and reallocated those funds to the highest need schools in support of Black students. Despite all the protests and public outcry from communities of color, the members of L.A.’s Board of Education took no action.
“The Board’s inability to stand up for Black students was a complete and utter waste of time, and extremely disrespectful to both the students and parents who trusted and believed that the Board would hear their voices and concerns,” says Corey Matthews, Chief Operating Officer, Community Coalition.
According to a study by the UCLA Black Male Institute, LAUSD has increased its spending in law enforcement by 48% since the 2005-2006 school year, despite seeing a decrease in the student population across the district. Black youth are less than nine percent of the LAUSD population, yet they account for 25 percent of all school arrests (Million Dollar Hoods Project at UCLA, 2018). Other studies from community organizers found:
- Over 43% of surveyed LAUSD youth (out of 1,840 District students and 3,378 overall L.A. County youth) have experienced random police stops and interactions in their schools. (Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition’s Safety and Youth Justice Survey, 2019.)
- 86% of Students Deserve’s survey respondents (out of 5,433) called for the defunding of LAUSD school police, including 88% of Black students who called for the defunding of school police. (Students Deserve survey, 2020)
- 79.4% of survey respondents want full-time psychiatric social workers.
- 74.2% of respondents want full-time college counselors.
- 72.8% want smaller class sizes. 69.1% want ethnic studies.
- 65.2% want parents, family, and community centers. 58.4% want grief counselors.
“Community Coalition commends the fast and direct mobilizing efforts by the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, Students Deserve, and Black Lives Matters—L.A. The quick strategic pivots that were made got us moving in the right direction,” said Matthews referring to the organizing strategy that led to the June 30 4-to-3 vote, which took place after 10 p.m. following hours of public testimony by student and parent activists.
“The big questions centered on what constitutes safety, the vision community activists have for Black children, the purpose of education, and our children being looked at as the entire future. And while we are disappointed that Board Member Jackie Goldberg did not support defunding LASPD by the proposed 50% on Board Member Garcia’s resolution, the adoption of Goldberg’s friendly amendment (resulting in nearly 40%) is the significant first step that was much-needed,” Matthews concluded.
The $25 million being taken from the LASPD will be invested in supporting Black student achievement, gang-reduction programs, mental health and college prep counselors, as well as community safety aids. The budget vote and school police issue decided on Tuesday are not final and still could face changes due to uncertainties in the state budget, and future recommendations from the task force convened to determine the future of the LASPD. The district plans to return on July 15, when the state will offer a revised budget.