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LAUSD Voted To Reduce School Police Funding By $25 Million Three Months Ago. Now What?

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A L.A. School Police vehicle parked outside of Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts on the first day of school, August 20, 2019. (Carla Javier/KPCC)
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In June, under pressure from student groups and amid a broader push to defund law enforcement agencies around the country, the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education voted 4-to-3 to reduce the district’s school police budget by $25 million, and to reallocate the money to schools with more Black students.

It’s now been more than three months since that decision, and the country’s second largest school district still hasn’t quite figured out what to do.

The interim chief of the Los Angeles school police and the School Safety Task Force have proposed ways to whittle down the department’s budget by 35% — like getting rid of campus assignments and canine units — though they haven’t yet outlined how they think the $25 million saved should be spent.

And the district still hasn’t surveyed students, staff, or families for their thoughts on the matter, though task force representatives say they plan to soon.

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At a recent Committee of the Whole meeting largely dedicated to the issue, board member Nick Melvoin — who voted in favor of the 35% reduction in June — called the current situation “purgatory.”

“How silly this all sounds,” Melvoin said. “We’ve had the department suggest cuts … but I’m sorry they’re doing it in a vacuum and devoid of the context.”

Board member George McKenna, who joined the other two former principals on the board in vocal opposition to the cuts, calls the reductions to the school police force “reckless.”

Speaking at last week’s meeting, he asked, “Could you not have asked for the role of the police before you cut the budget?”

On social media, Students Deserve — one of the groups that called on the district to defund the school police department — called out the district for not acting more swiftly in an all caps tweet.

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“IS LAUSD’s TASK FORCE ON SCHOOL POLICE DESIGNED TO WASTE TIME,” the student organizers asked on Twitter. “WHAT WILL IT DO ABOUT THE DISPROPORTIONATE POLICING OF BLACK STUDENTS?”

Interim Chief Leslie Ramirez says 37 members of the school police have left the department since the cuts were passed on June 30, including its former chief.

A district deputy superintendent told the board it has this month and next to figure out what to do, so any changes can be incorporated into the interim budget in December.

READ MORE OF OUR COVERAGE OF SCHOOL POLICE:

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