Superintendent Austin Beutner convened a meeting with community leaders from the Brotherhood Crusade, Social Justice Learning Institute, Suits in Solidarity, academics from the UCLA Bunche Center, and leadership from the Los Angeles Unified School District to discuss school policing and school discipline in Los Angeles Unified.
The meeting was called in response to a recent report published by Million Dollar Hoods, a project of UCLA’s Bunche Center for African American Studies. The report, “Policing Our Students,” analyzed data on Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) arrests, citations, and diversions between 2014 and 2017. It concluded that “1 in 4 youth arrests made by the LASPD were elementary and middle school-aged children.” Concerned with these findings, Superintendent Beutner invited attendees to have an open and transparent conversation about the data included in the report and LASPD’s processes of interacting with youth.
Recognizing their shared vision to decrease youth contact with school police, the group agreed to collaborate on tangible steps to make this vision a reality. Specifically, the working group will work to identify policy recommendations aimed at eliminating citations and arrests of Black and Latino students in middle and elementary school, for minor offenses. In addition, the group will work to identify strategies to increase restorative practices and prevention services.
“Los Angeles Unified remains committed to advancing progressive school policing and discipline reform,” Superintendent Beutner said. “There is progress to be made to ensure every student is learning in a welcoming, safe and positive school environment.”
In 2013, Los Angeles Unified passed the School Climate Bill of Rights, which aims to improve school culture and decrease punitive discipline approaches that infringe on instructional time.
“The meeting was incredibly productive. It was very clear that everybody at the table believed that improving outcomes for students is a primary goal. The Superintendent is committed to forming a working group tasked with outlining a strategy to end arrests on middle schools and elementary schools while simultaneously bolstering the availability of alternative community-based resources. I think that is the right kind of leadership, and I look forward to supporting the ongoing process” Isaac Bryan, public policy advisor, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA & public policy director, Million Dollar Hoods.
“The UCLA Bunche Center is committed to being an independent academic partner in this effort to improve outcomes for students. By delivering the eye-opening power of research, and working collectively with the broader community, we hope to advance this initiative to end racial disparities at all points of contact between youth and school police and to adopt new alternatives to arresting young students.” Kelly Lytle Hernandez, UCLA professor of history and African American Studies director, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA project director, Million Dollar Hoods.
“I thought the meeting with Superintendent Beutner was honest, contentious at times but very productive and clearly a step in the right direction. If we can work together toward a goal of zero tolerance policy of arresting elementary and middle school students, we will achieve something meaningful for students of color.” Kerman Maddox, co-chair, Suits in Solidarity.
“We look forward to working with Superintendent Beutner to significantly change discipline outcomes for students of color while simultaneously dramatically improving school police and community relationships,” said, George Weaver, Special Programs Administrator, Brotherhood Crusade. “All parties involved in this process share a genuine and authentic desire to maximize the opportunity for students to succeed in school and in life. This desire is accompanied by mutually agreeable efforts to eliminate punitive discipline and increase resourced youth development support for minor offenses committed by elementary and middle school students.”
The Superintendent’s working group will help community leaders and LASPD to work together on school police reform and ensure that all Los Angeles Unified students have a welcoming and safe environment to learn and achieve academic success.