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LAUSD Board Reduces School Police Budget By 35%

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LA Unified Board members debated a 35% budget cut to the district's school police force at its June 30, 2020 meeting. (LAUSD Screenshot)
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After the second marathon meeting in as many weeks, Los Angeles Unified School Board members voted 4-3 to cut $25 million from the L.A. School Police Department — the indepdendent, district-run force of 400 sworn officers that patrols LAUSD campuses.

In addition to a 35% reduction to the department's $70 million budget, the board's vote also directs LAUSD to recall school police officers from campuses and take them "out of uniform" until a district task force meets and issues a report.

The reduction was included in the board's approval of the district's overall $8.9 billion budget -- and while the $25 million cut from the L.A. School Police was just a small fraction of the total, it was by far the dominant issue in more than 13 hours of discussion and debate on Tuesday.

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Initially, García sought to immediately cut the school police budget by $35 million — a 50% cut.

Goldberg said she couldn't support that large of a cut, but offered a substitute motion as a compromise. García agreed, and board members Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez signed on.

Black Lives Matter-L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah addressed the board earlier in the day:

“Let’s divest from school police and invest in the things that our children actually need like nurses, librarians, school social workers and smaller class sizes.”

L.A. School Police Chief Todd Chamberlain said the effects would be evident within the next two months: LAUSD will need to lay off 65 officers, close 39 vacant officer positions and eliminate the school police force's entire overtime budget.

School police officers also be available only during daytime hours, Monday through Friday, scaling back from the current 24-hours-a-day, 7-day-a-week schedule.

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Board member Richard Vladovic opposed the move and begged his colleagues to delay their action, saying the remifications of these immediate cuts aren't yet clear.

"We're walking right into this without knowing where we're going, and how we're going to get there," said Vladovic, who joined board members Scott Schmerelson and George McKenna in opposition.

School board members also voted to approve the district's overall $8.9 billion budget for the upcoming school year, which largely maintains the district’s current spending levels — at least for now.

Board members’ vote on Tuesday fulfills a requirement under state law that they pass a budget by July 1.

In the coming weeks, LAUSD officials expect they’ll have to make adjustments to their spending plan as it becomes clearer how much funding California’s largest school district can expect from the state and federal governments.

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This post was updated shortly after posting to include comments from Abdullah and Vladovic.