The Los Angeles public school district has voted to ax 133 members of its police force — and replace them with school “climate coaches” to help black students.
The district’s board voted Tuesday night to cut the Los Angeles School Police budget by $25 million, losing 70 sworn officers, 62 non-sworn officers and one member of support staff, the force said.
The money will help create a $36.5 million new Black Student Achievement Plan, with most of it used to hire “climate coaches” at secondary schools, the Los Angeles Times said.
The coaches “will provide students with an advocate on campus who is trained and focused on implementing positive school culture and climate,” a school report said.
They will use “effective de-escalation strategies” while “building positive relationships and elevating student voice, eliminating racial disproportionality in school discipline practices, and understanding and addressing implicit bias,” the report said.
The cuts amount to 28 percent of the police department’s staff, and defied “significant opposition” among parents and staff, the force said.
“Make no mistake, this will impact student and staff safety,” warned Rob Taylor, the president of L.A.’s School Police Management Association.
“This is likely to create a liability for the district when the inevitable tragedy occurs that could have been prevented or mitigated,” Taylor said of the vote that “saddened and deeply concerned” him.
Board members said that the vote ignored the fact that “parents expect us to have safe schools.”
“And if you think the police are the problem, I think you got a problem yourself,” McKenna said, according to the L.A. Times.
Other board members who supported the overhaul insisted they were meeting the demands of students.
“I have heard the concerns of black students who have felt targeted by school police,” Jackie Goldberg said.
Another, Mónica García, said, “Black students, parents, teachers and allies have demanded that we interrupt the school to prison pipeline.”
The overhaul — which also bans the use of pepper spray on students — was hailed by a coalition of about 19 student activist and advocacy groups, including Black Lives Matter and the California Assn. of Black School Educators, the outlet said.
“This plan enacts a long-standing community demand for Counselors not Cops, and is a first step towards replacing school police with more effective strategies for student safety,” the organization said in a statement to the L.A. Times.
“This victory is a crucial step towards mitigating the years of disinvestment and ending the criminalization and over-policing of Black students and students of color in LAUSD.”
With Post wires