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At Activists’ Urging, LAUSD Board Postpones Talk Of School Police Cuts Again

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Protestors rallying at L.A. Unified School District's downtown headquarters during a demonstration calling for the district to defund the L.A. School Police. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
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Last summer, following nationwide protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education agreed to cut its school police department’s budget by $25 million. The details —such as how to make those cuts, and where to redirect the money — were to be figured out soon thereafter.

Now, six months later, the proposal is still in limbo. A discussion on a drafted policy was scheduled for December, but Superintendent Austin Beutner postponed the item to allow more time for feedback from the school community. It was supposed to be taken up again at tomorrow’s board meeting — but a revised agenda posted online says the item on School Police Budget Reduction and Reinvestment is “to be withdrawn.”

Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-L.A., has advocated for the cuts and guided student activists throughout the planning process. She says they pushed for the district to take the proposal off the agenda.

“It wasn’t going forward in an authentic way,” Abdullah said.

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Black Lives Matter-L.A. and a student-led advocacy group, Students Deserve, want more buy-in from students, parents and educators. They’re also calling for money saved in the proposed 35% cut to the school police budget to be spent on support staff at schools with large Black student populations.

“Campuses are not open, yet we’re spending tens of millions of dollars to basically do nothing — to guard empty buildings,” Abdullah said.

The ultimate goal, she said, is to remove school police altogether.

Sarah Djato, a senior at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles and a leader with Students Deserve, has worked on the campaign for much of high school. She shares Abdullah’s concerns and demands, and wants to see the cuts and reinvestment in Black students finalized soon.

“It’s something I do want to see before I graduate,” Djato said. “So if that timeline could be implemented, that would be the best thing.”

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At this point, it’s unclear when the issue will be back before the board, but advocates are hoping to have the new proposal ready in a matter of weeks.

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