LOS ANGELES (AP) — The board overseeing the Los Angeles Unified School District has cut $25 million from the budget for school police and will use the money to help fund an achievement plan for Black students.
The plan approved by the school board Tuesday will cut 70 sworn officers, 62 non-sworn officers and one support staff position from the Los Angeles School Police Department, leaving the force with 211 officers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The newspaper said the board’s decision came after a yearlong push by activist students and community members that was intensified by national protests over racial injustice and police brutality last summer following George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
The overhaul also bans the use of pepper spray on students in the nation’s second-largest school district.
“Investments and behaviors must be different if we want outcomes to be different,” board member Mónica García said in a statement. “Black students, parents, teachers and allies have demanded that we interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.”
The $25 million diverted from school police and other money from the next school year’s general fund budget will create a $36.5 million fund for the new Black Student Achievement Plan, which is aimed at 53 schools that have high numbers of Black students and below-average proficiency in math and English, among other concerns.
Most of the money will be used to hire “climate coaches” at secondary schools and support staff, including school nurses and counselors.
A school board report said the coaches “will provide students with an advocate on campus who is trained and focused on implementing positive school culture and climate, using socio-emotional learning strategies to strengthen student engagement, applying effective de-escalation strategies to support conflict resolution, building positive relationships and elevating student voice, eliminating racial disproportionality in school discipline practices, and understanding and addressing implicit bias.”
Board member Jackie Goldberg said the plan was developed in collaboration with students and community organizers.
“I have heard the concerns of Black students who have felt targeted by school police,” Goldberg said. “I believe there are creative ways to keep our schools safe that don’t rely on having an officer stationed on campus.”