The school board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, California’s largest public school system, voted Tuesday to cut a third of police officer positions and decrease the powers of remaining officers.
The district approved a plan to eliminate 133 police officer positions. The school board also banned police from using pepper spray on students and took $25 million out of the police budget to go toward school programs for black students.
“We would not be at this point, though it is delayed admittedly, without the community’s leadership,” school board President Kelly Gonez said. “I’m glad that the plan’s development also provided an opportunity for more engagement with our students, families and the broader community.”
Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, activists have been pressuring the school board to completely eliminate its police force.
In July, the school board voted to cut the district’s 400-man police force by 35%. The police chief, along with 20 officers, resigned. Leslie Ramirez then immediately took over as interim chief of the Los Angeles School Police. Her position became permanent in December. Ramirez said that the school police had already taken steps to cut back police presence on campus. She also said that the new plan has multiple drawbacks.
The plan has “potential liabilities, lacks clarity, and will result in unintended consequences impacting the safety of students and staff,” Ramirez said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Unified School District commissioned a survey that found that the majority of students and parents have a positive view of campus police. The Los Angeles Times reports:
But when broken down by demographics, 35% of Black students agreed with that sentiment, compared with 56% of Asian American and Pacific Islander students, 54% of Latino students and 49% of white students.
A similar pattern occurred with parents, in which about 50% of Black parents agreed that school police made campuses safe, compared with 72% of Asian American and Pacific Islander parents, 67% of Latino parents and 54% of white parents.