As more people call for “defunding the police,” LA’s school board members have advanced several different proposals. Parent leaders with Innovate Public Schools recently weighed in on the direction they think the district should take.
Defunding the police doesn’t sound radical when you realize we have been defunding education for years. Funding more education and less police is not a radical idea for Black parents in Los Angeles. In fact, parents, students, community advocates and local organizations have been advocating around this for years, calling for LAUSD to:
- Increase school funding in low-income communities,
- Invest in Black students’ learning
- Remove Los Angeles School Police presence, and
- Create better learning environments for African American students.
The solution is not radical when you consider that schools are learning environments and not correctional facilities. A school environment with less police and more supportive staff would have changed local youth pastor and father of five, Akela Wroten Jr. ‘s high school experience. While attending King Drew Medical Magnet High School in Watts, California, Wroten saw police officers and guns everyday, which he believes largely impacted his high school experience.
By the Numbers: Policing is coming at the expense of education
- 45% of Black LAUSD youth surveyed disagree that police adds to their safety on campus and community, according to a recent survey conducted by LA Students Deserve
- There are over 50,000 black students in LAUSD. Right now, just 2 out of 10 are on grade level in Math and 3 out of 10 are on grade level in English Language Arts.
- Boys of color made up 76% of all Los Angeles School Police Department youth involvement, according to the Policing Our Students Report released by Million Dollar Hoods
- LAUSD has seen an upsurge in mental health issues for students in the last decade, stating “since 2011, school counseling related incidents have increased by 906%,”according to the UCLA Black Male Institute
Parents have identified one of those barriers to achievement are our schools focusing on policing instead of educating. The call to defund police is a call to values, LAUSD needs to divest in policing our students, and reinvest in educating them.
Mr. Wroten, along with other members of Innovate’s parent leader team on Citywide Black Student Achievement in Los Angeles, California, are demanding that the Los Angeles Unified School District remove police officers from LAUSD schools to focus on school safety versus school policing. Replacing police officers with social workers, resource officers, counselors and mental health experts will dramatically improve the black student experience and drastically reduce the school-to-prison pipeline which largely affects Black students who are over-policed.
Innovate Parent Leaders Back Garcia’s Resolution
Reimagining school safety isn’t radical. LAUSD Board Member Monica Garcia, whose school board district had the highest number of diversions, is proposing the best solution for Black Parents in LAUSD.
Currently, the LA School Police budget is $70 Million and a coalition of local community-based organizations are widely supporting and calling for support for LAUSD Board Member Monica Garcia’s resolution that will reimagine school safety and invest in students with the highest need through the Student Equity Needs Index (SENI). Board Member Garcia’s resolution is the only resolution proposed that stands for Black students by divesting funds from school police to specifically support African-American students.
“I support Monica Garcia’s resolution because it would reduce police presence in schools which will promote an environment where our students are not afraid and can learn. It will also redirect much needed funds to educating our students. Lets stop policing our students and start educating them,” Melissa Mack, parent, substitute teacher and community leader with Innovate Public Schools, shared during a coalition press call with Black Lives Matter LA, LA Students Deserve, and Brothers Sons Selves
Local Pastor, Cedric Nelms, believes that there are other ways to work with students and that police should not be in elementary, middle and high schools – schools should be a safe space for students to actively grow, learn and make mistakes without potentially going to jail.
LAUSD Board Members have an opportunity to invest in Black Lives and Black Students in LAUSD by voting for Monica Garcia’s Resolution. Parents are calling for LAUSD Board Members to vote YES on June 23rd for Monica Garcia’s resolution as the first step to defunding the Los Angeles School Police Department. Knowing that this is not enough, parents continue to push for the repeal of Proposition 209 by passing ACA 5 to truly be able to earmark funds for Black students.