Los Angeles schools are reorganizing the police agency responsible for school safety to combat systemic racism against Black students.
The Board of Education overseeing the Los Angeles Unified School District voted Tuesday to slash $25 million from the Los Angeles School Police Department and cut 133 jobs, a spokesperson told CNN.
Money will go from the police agency to a Black Student Achievement Plan to empower community groups, improve student literacy, and reduce the “over-identification of Black students in suspensions, discipline and other measures,” according to the meeting agenda.
The board for the nation’s second-largest school district, with more than 600,000 students, also banned pepper spray against students, the spokesperson said.
“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 cuts to the police department’s budget didn’t appear to come as a surprise to the agency.
In a statement following the vote, Chief Leslie Ramirez said, “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.”
Several major school districts have eliminated or reduced police presence
The board announced it would reevaluate the role of police on campuses in June, with the goal of making students “feel they are a respected part of their school community.”
Los Angeles joins cities like Oakland, Milwaukee and Denver that have reduced or removed police from public schools, a move spurred by nationwide demonstrations against police brutality after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other Black men and women at the hands of police.
Some activists for police reform say officers end up “criminalizing” Black and Latino students or disproportionately punish them compared to students of other races.
Disturbing footage has shown school police acting violently toward students, like when Orlando police were filmed arresting a 6-year-old girl after an apparent tantrum in 2019 or, the same year, when North Carolina police were accused of body slamming children and putting them in a chokehold.