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LA school board slashes police force, diverts $25 million to services for Black students

LA school board slashes police force, diverts $25 million to services for Black students

After an announcement in June to to reevaluate the role of police on campuses, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to reduce police presence in schools across the city.

Following calls to defund and abolish the police, the Los Angeles school board is finally listening. In a monumental administrative move, the Board of Education overseeing the Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday voted to cut $25 million from the Los Angeles School Police Department and make redundant 133 jobs. The decision is intended to combat systemic racism against Black students. The slashed funds will soon be diverted towards a Black Student Achievement Plan, a program to "empower community groups, improve student literacy, and reduce the over-identification of Black students in suspensions, discipline and other measures," CNN reports.

 



 

 

"We are taking an important step in the right direction to provide Black students with vital investments in their success—with millions of dollars going toward academic support, social-emotional resources, and a new approach to school climate and safety," Nick Melvoin, a member of the school board, stated. "This student and community-driven action was long overdue." The board is responsible for the nation's second-largest school district with more than 600,000 students. In addition to diverting funds, the board moved to ban the use of pepper spray against students, a spokesperson revealed. Chief Leslie Ramirez added in a statement following the vote, "From the onset, the depth and significance of this action was obvious and today's decision brings the realism of a forthcoming LASPD reform to our service delivery model."

 



 

 

The vote comes after the board's announcement to reevaluate the role of police on campuses in June. At the time, the goal was to make students "feel they are a respected part of their school community." This makes Los Angeles one of the few cities to take the calls to defund police departments seriously. Other cities, such as Oakland, Milwaukee, and Denver, recently removed or reduced police presence within their public school districts as well. The decision to do so was spurred on by last summer's nationwide protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and other Black men and women. They were all victims of police brutality perpetrated by White police officers.

 



 

According to several police reform activists, police officers on campus routinely "criminalize" Black and Latino students. Many are disproportionately punished in comparison to students of other races, particularly White students. For instance, in Orlando, police officials were filmed arresting a girl, aged six, after an apparent tantrum in the year 2019. That same year, police officers from North Carolina were accused of body-slamming children and putting them in a chokehold. In this light, the Los Angeles Unified School District's decision to cut police funding is historic and could lead to better academic outcomes for students of color.

 



 

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