LA School District Rejects Proposal to Allow Police Officers Back on Campus

By Alice Sun
Alice Sun
Alice Sun
September 15, 2021 Updated: September 15, 2021

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) shot down a proposal to allow police officers back on school campuses on Sept. 14.

In February 2021, LAUSD voted 4-2 to remove police officers from school campuses in response to the widespread protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. School-trained climate coaches were to replace the police to ensure school safety, following council’s orders.

The proposal of bringing back the campus police was sponsored by school board members George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson, who both voted against the decision to eradicate the police officers from schools in February.

In the proposal, McKenna and Schmerelson stated that a survey conducted in the fall found the majority of parents and school staff across the demographic subgroups held positive perceptions of the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) and emphasized that significant numbers of parents and staff were opposed to reducing police officers from school.

“In the 2019-20 school year, out of 115,000 services calls, there were only 10 total complaints against school police from staff, parents or students,” the proposal stated, adding that school administrators have expressed “profound … unreadiness and a lack of empowerment” in optimizing school safety for the in-person learning environment.

“They [survey] tell us the parents are not supportive of the notion of removing police … The parents expect us to have a safe school. And if you think the police are the problem, I think you got a problem yourself,” McKenna said during a Feb. 16 council meeting.

The reform actions toward school police were first brought up by board member Monica Garcia in June 2020. Garcia proposed to defund the LASPD by 50 percent for the 2021- 22 fiscal year. During the board meeting, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in front of the LAUSD headquarters to show support for Garcia’s proposal.

Ultimately, the proposal was rejected and replaced by board member Jackie Goldberg’s proposal of cutting $25 million from the school police’s annual budget. The decision transferred those funds to support the African American Student Achievement Plan and gang reduction programs.

LASPD is the largest independent school police department in the United States. After the budget was cut, the number of employed sworn police officers dropped from 410 to 211, and the number of non-sworn school safety officers drop from 110 to 25, according to the LASPD website.

According to a report released by Crosstown, 2014 crimes were reported on LAUSD campuses during the 2018-19 school year. High schools accounted for 45.6 percent of the crimes reported, followed by middle schools at 28.4 percent and 26 percent for elementary school. The number of enrollments is closely related to the crimes reported to the Los Angeles Police Department.

LAUSD school board members were not immediately available for comment. A spokesperson for Garcia declined to comment.

Alice Sun