Return to Headlines

Joint Statement from L.A. Unified and Community Leaders (12-04-18)

LOS ANGELES – December 4, 2018 – Superintendent Austin Beutner met last month with leaders from the Brotherhood Crusade, Social Justice Learning Institute, Suits in Solidarity, academics from the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies, and leaders from the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) to discuss school policing and discipline.

The meeting was called in response to a recent report published by Million Dollar Hoods, a project from the Bunche Center for African American Studies. The report, “Policing Our Students,” analyzed data LASPD arrests, citations and diversions between 2014 and 2017. The findings of that report identified concerns of disparity with arrests and citations of students of color and numbers of arrests involving students under 14 years of age. As a result, Superintendent Beutner invited attendees to have an open and transparent conversation about the data and LASPD’s processes of interacting with youth.

Recognizing the progress and work that LASPD has accomplished, and to espouse their shared vision to decrease youth contact with School Police, the group agreed to collaborate on tangible steps to make this vision a reality. Specifically, the group will work to identify policy recommendations aimed at eliminating citations and arrests for minor offenses and where legally possible. The primary target populations are middle and elementary school-aged African American and Latino youth, who are overrepresented in the data. In addition, the group will work to identify strategies to increase restorative practices and prevention services.

“Los Angeles Unified remains committed to advancing progressive school policing and discipline reform,” said Superintendent Beutner. “There is progress to be made to ensure every student is learning in a welcoming, safe and positive school environment.”

In 2013, Los Angeles Unified passed the School Climate Bill of Rights, which aims to improve school culture and decrease punitive discipline approaches that infringe on instructional time.

"The meeting was incredibly productive. It was very clear that everybody at the table believed that improving outcomes for students is a primary goal. The Superintendent is committed to forming a working group tasked with outlining a strategy to end arrests on middle schools and elementary schools while simultaneously bolstering the availability of alternative community-based resources. I think that is the right kind of leadership, and I look forward to supporting the ongoing process," said Isaac Bryan, Public Policy Advisor for UCLA’s Bunche Center and Public Policy Director for Million Dollar Hoods.

“The UCLA Bunche Center is committed to being an independent academic partner in this effort to improve outcomes for students. By delivering the eye-opening power of research and working collectively with the broader community, we hope to advance this initiative to end racial disparities at all points of contact between youth and school police and to adopt new alternatives to arresting young students,” said Kelly Lytle Hernandez, UCLA Professor of History and African American Studies, Director of the Bunche Center and UCLA Project Director for Million Dollar Hoods.

"I thought the meeting was honest and a little contentious at times, but very productive and clearly a step in the right direction. If we can work together toward a goal of zero tolerance policy of arresting elementary and middle school students, we will achieve something meaningful for students of color,” said Kerman Maddox, Co-Chair, Suits in Solidarity.

“We look forward to working with Superintendent Beutner to significantly change discipline outcomes for students of color while simultaneously dramatically improving school police and community relationships,” said George Weaver, Special Programs Administrator, Brotherhood Crusade. “All parties involved in this process share a genuine and authentic desire to maximize the opportunity for students to succeed in school and in life. This desire is accompanied by mutually agreeable efforts to eliminate punitive discipline and increase resourced youth development support for minor offenses committed by elementary and middle school students.”

The Superintendent’s working group will help community leaders and the LASPD to continue to work together on school and student safety and school police best practices to ensure that all Los Angeles Unified students have a welcoming and safe environment to learn and achieve academic success.