The United Teachers Los Angeles union is calling for the elimination of the Los Angeles Unified School District police department, it was announced Friday.
The UTLA “House of Representatives” passed a motion Thursday night to eliminate LAUSD school police and redirect funding to mental health and counseling for students, said Anna Bakalis of the union.
Thursday’s UTLA House of Representatives vote was 154-56, and follows a 35-2 vote by the UTLA Board of Directors on the same motion on June 2.
“The concept of police-free schools is not new,” UTLA President-elect Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement. “Students and parents have been speaking their truth for many years, oftentimes going unheard. Police presence in schools leads to negative outcomes for Black and Brown students, who are arrested and disciplined at higher rates than their peers.”
Myart-Cruz said the union is “in a moment when we can stand with our students and be a catalyst for change.”
“(Thursday’s) vote means that UTLA officially supports police-free schools,” Myart-Cruz said. “Any changes to the current school police policy happens with a vote by the LAUSD School Board. In passing this motion, UTLA is saying that we must break the cycle that has allowed increased police presence in schools of color, especially significantly Black schools, while academic and social-emotional supports are cut.”
Other school districts have recently voted to eliminate police on school campuses, including those in San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Denver, Portland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charlottesville, UTLA reported.
Locally, a youth movement led by Black Lives Matter-LA and Students Deserve is driving the broad coalition to defund the LA School Police Department. That coalition includes students, parents, teachers, community organizations, and labor allies, including SEIU Local 99, the second-largest labor union in LAUSD, UTLA reported.