The board of education for the Los Angeles Unified School District voted on Tuesday to redirect funds meant for school policing into a program meant to help Black students achieve academic success.
According to CNN, the vote will slash the budget of the Los Angeles School Police Department by $25 million, resulting in 133 jobs being cut. The money will be redirected to a Black Student Achievement Plan that intends to improve student literacy as well as reduce “over-identification of Black students in suspensions, discipline and other measures,” according to the meeting agenda. The board also voted to ban the use of pepper spray on students, which, ya know, I kinda feel like they should’ve been on top of that sooner.
“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,” said school board member Nick Melvoin. “This student and community driven action was long overdue.”
The vote by the board wasn’t surprising, as they announced last June that they would be looking into reforming school policing. “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,” Chief Leslie Ramirez said in a statement. Ramirez did point out that the LASPD wants clarification on the banning of pepper spray on students, as they weren’t included in the discussions surrounding the final language of the ban.
I like how one of the takeaways here was “What do you mean we can’t pepper spray kids?!”
The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the nation, and is home to over 600,000 students. The role of police officers at public schools has come under scrutiny both as a result of the prolonged protests last year against police brutality, as well as a series of incidents that have occurred within schools. Just last month, a school resource officer at a Florida high school was seen on video body slamming a Black student and rendering her unconscious.
Los Angeles isn’t alone in reducing funding for school police officers, as last year Chicago took similar steps to reduce police presence in public schools.