A coalition of Black students, parents, teachers and community members called Thursday for the Los Angeles Unified School District board to put $25 million recently cut from the school police budget into campuses with the highest Black student enrollment, including those with higher rates of student arrests and lowest achievement levels.

“We’re here today to talk about a proposal that the community has put together to reinvest this money, this $25 million, in a way that will effectively impact and change school culture for Black students in LAUSD and end the culture of criminalization and abuse that Black students have experienced and usher in real school climate and culture change and real efforts to promote and improve Black student achievement,” said Joseph Williams, director of operations and campaigns for the Students Deserve coalition.

LAUSD officials declined to release a statement, and the Los Angeles School Police Department could not immediately be reached for a response.

Under the “Reimagining Student Safety Proposal,” no Los Angeles School Police Department officers would be assigned to “on campus duties”; no school would be allowed to “opt-in” to have officers on campus; and each participating school would be assigned a full team of “restorative justice coordinators,” psychiatric social workers, pupil services and attendance counselors, academic counselors, and student safety coaches.

The coalition is also proposing that the funding would be used to:

— expand the existing LAUSD “Community Schools” program by adding five additional schools which meet the criteria contained in the proposal. Community schools operate as hubs of their communities, using families, community members and educators to enrich education, according to LAUSD.

— provide professional development and coaching focused on school climate reform, culturally affirming education and Black-centered courses, such as African American history;

— create student leadership and career mentoring through existing community organizations that have a history of working with Black and/or other impacted youth in implementing those programs; and

— create an accountability and implementation team consisting of a district-level “School Climate and Black Student Achievement Administrator/Director” and five floating supervisors to focus on the coordination and implementation of resources.

The coalition’s proposal also calls for the district to expand its definition of Black student achievement to include “high academic performance, strong social-emotional awareness and management and a positive cultural identity.”

Schools would also be called upon to utilize strategies and methods that are directly responsive to the “unique needs of Black students” due to the historic, social and economic conditions that they have experienced.

The coalition is calling for the creation of a School Climate and Black Student Achievement Steering Committee, which would include 50% representation from district leadership staff and 50% community representation from groups within the coalition. The committee would vote on recommended allocations to schools and report back to the school board on the program’s progress.

The LAUSD board is scheduled to vote Feb. 16 on how to reinvest the money cut from the police budget in June.

“This proposal is extremely important to me. For too long Black students at LAUSD have been over-policed and under-resourced,” said Sierra Leone Anderson, a ninth-grader at Girls Academic Leadership Academy in the Mid-Wilshire area, who said the district prioritizes “cops over care.”

Anderson said that aside from addressing the issues of policing on campus, the proposal would bring necessary resources to underserved schools.

“These roles help address students’ social-emotional needs, build community and positively transform school climate and culture,” she said.

Asia Bryant, a recent graduate of Hamilton High School in Palms and a student leader for Students Deserve, said Black students make up 8% of LAUSD’s student population but 25% of the arrests on its campuses.

“Funding Black students and communities also means that the funds and resources would go to other students, but we still need to acknowledge how Black students are disproportionately targeted and over-policed on school campuses,” she said.

United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz said the community-led proposal has the support of the union, which represents 35,000 teachers and human services professionals at LAUSD.

She highlighted the community school aspect of the proposal, saying that culturally relevant curriculum will help address the learning needs of students and expand their experiences.

“Community schools are an important part of this proposal. We need to be transformational in our models of education, as our current ones aren’t serving our Black students,” Myart-Cruz said. “We want students to be affirmed for who they are in this moment, and UTLA fully supports and wants this board to adopt this proposal.”

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