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Los Angeles board rejects proposal to shrink school police budget

June 24, 2020
Proposal sought to slash school police department spending by 90%

The Los Angeles Unified School Board has rejected a proposal that would have slashed 90% of the district's police department's budget by 2024.

NBC Los Angeles reports that some board members were reluctant to take such a drastic action without an alternative plan in place to guarantee the safety of students in the nation's second-largest school district.

"I would regret for the rest of my life if I left any student vulnerable, any student in danger," board member Richard Vladovic says.

The proposal by board member Monica Garcia called for the school police budget to be reduced by 50% in the 2021-22 fiscal year, then 75% the next year and 90% the following year. Funds would have been redirected to the "highest need schools in support of African-American students."

Garcia says the district and its police officers are doing the best they can, but it's not good enough.

"This is about systemic racism and classism," Garcia says.

Board member George McKenna, however, delivered an impassioned defense of school police, and warned the board against taking a knee-jerk vote in response to a growing national movement to eliminate or dramatically reduce law enforcement.

Only Garcia and board member Nick Melvoin supported Garcia's motion, which failed on a 2-4 vote.

On 4-3 votes, the board also rejected two other resolutions relating to school policing.

District Superintendent Austin Beutner said last week a district-wide budget review this summer will include a deep look at the School Police Department, which was founded in 1984 and employs 366 sworn officers and 95 non-sworn officers. Its budget of roughly $70 million represents less than 1% of the district's annual budget.

Beutner has appointed a nine-member task force to deliver a progress report and initial recommendations to the board later this summer.

Regardless of what the task force recommends, Beutner says "random wanding'' searches will stop, and he is recommending the elimination of officers' use of pepper spray and carotid holds.

School district police—who are not part of the Los Angeles Police Department—responded to more than 100,000 emergency calls last year.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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