Community Victory in the Fight against the School-to-Jail-Track Securing New Student Protections against Tickets and Arrests
by Manuel Criollo on Monday, August 18, 2014
Community Organizing Results in a Civil Rights Breakthrough - School Police Have Adopted a New Policy in Response to CRC's Demands for the Equal Protection Plan
After more than two years of negotiations, Community Rights Campaign and allies Public Counsel have secured a comprehensive school police policy reform to decriminalize student discipline, currently in effect in the new school year. We are thrilled that this policy is ready for release and will be hosting a community announcement and press event tomorrow, August 19th at 2:30pm at Manual Arts High School alongside Deputy Superintendent Michelle King, Board Member Monica Garcia, Chief Steven Zipperman and Presiding Judge Michael Nash, to highlight the progress and community collaboration that led to this important breakthrough.
The new school police policy and protocols requires most incidents that have resulted in citations and battery arrests, to be re-directed where they belonged in the first place - school and community interventions. In previous years, LAUSD and LASPD, the nation's second largest school district and largest school police force, have had some of the highest rates of citations and arrests of comparable urban school districts. And students of color have suffered the most from a punitive school culture that has unnecessarily relied on the juvenile/criminal system. As we reported in our 2013 report, black students were close to 6 times more likely to receive a citation than white students in the 2012-13 school year, and for school fights, black students were an alarming 29 times more likely to receive a disturbing the peace citation.
Over the last school years though, LAUSD and LASPD in collaboration with its community partners, have made significant breakthroughs in the area of school discipline and reversing ‘zero tolerance' to build supports for all students and focus on inclusive and positive interventions that fully engaged youth in their school community. The truancy diversion program, the curtailing of citations to young students, the comprehensive reforms in the School Climate Bill of Rights Resolution and now the newly adopted school police policy and protocols, serve as critical models for transforming our school discipline responses that when implemented here, have national significance.
The Guidelines contain the following new student protections:
• A step-by-step process required by officers that will prevent a ticket or arrest for several criminal codes if the matter can be handled administratively (possession of marijuana (not smoking), fighting, possession of alcohol, consuming alcohol, vandalismof District property (less than $400), trespassing as an LAUSD student, theft of District property (under $50), tobacco possession and arrests for battery.
• An automatic administrative handling for tobacco possession and petty theft of District property (under $50)
• Limits on arrests and tickets for school fights
• Graduated responses to prevent a ticket or a diversion for a first time incident
• An opportunity to access resources at a FamilySource Center before a ticket is ever issued
• An emphasis on restorative justice and creating opportunities to repair conflict rather then criminalize discipline
• Limits on arrests that take place during times that disrupt the learning environment; and
• An ongoing commitment to review data and mitigate punitive actions related to police interactions with students.