LAUSD Defunds School Police


Joy Herrera, Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is responsible for educating around 650,000 students, and in the wake of protests inspired by the killing of George Floyd, school administrators have moved to make changes in regards to school safety. 

On Feb. 16, the LAUSD Board of Education voted to ban the use of pepper spray on students and diverted millions of dollars to benefit students of color. Students and teachers alike across the country are worried about the presence of armed police officers in schools. These steps were implemented to help students rather than inflict punishment on them.  

Across the nation, schools are grappling with how best to address concerns of the over-policing of primarily Latino and Black students. Other school districts across the country have led the way for LAUSD to make this move. Minneapolis Public Schools was one of the first districts to take action against police officers in school. Minneapolis moved to replace many of the police officers in schools with “Safety and Security specialists,” who are people directly employed by the school district to balance both safety and equity. 

The vote by the LAUSD Board of Education moves to cut the district’s police officers by about one-third. This leaves about 211 officers still in schools. While Los Angeles County is still in quarantine, administrators have time to think about how best to use the approximately $25 million previously used to fund policing in schools to best support students.

The district is working to create a plan to promote Black student achievement. This plan includes hiring more counselors, updating the curriculum, and pushing for more inclusion. A part of the funds will also be allocated to hire “climate coaches” who will work to create an inclusive environment and address implicit biases. This plan was passed by the board of education as a direct result of the push by members of the Los Angeles community. 

“We would not be at this point, though it is delayed admittedly, without the community’s leadership. I’m glad that the plan’s development also provided an opportunity for more engagement with our students, families and the broader community,” said the LAUSD Board of Education’s president, Kelly Gonez. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, a survey commissioned by LAUSD reflects an overall positive view of police officers in schools, with over half of students and parents believing they make schools safer.  However, when this survey is broken down into demographics it is clear that the answers of African American students do not reflect these trends. Only 35% of African American students said they felt safe with officers on campus. Black student leaders were instrumental in bringing this vote to the board of education, and several community groups have praised this move, from Black Lives Matter to Students Deserve. Police officers will remain in schools, but this restriction on the number of officers opens the door for new opportunities for equity among students. 


Photo courtesy of USATODAY.COM