L.A. school board cuts police officers, replaces them with social workers, "climate coaches"

by Jordyn Pair · Feb 19th, 2021 10:48 am
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Last Updated Feb 20th, 2021 at 12:15 pm

The Los Angeles Unified School Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to cut one-third of its school police force and replace it with social workers, restorative justice advisers, and "climate coaches."

The change will remove 133 positions from the district's police department, leaving it with 211 officers. Police will also no longer patrol school campuses, instead only responding during emergencies.

"Student safety is everyone's responsibility and starts with creating a school environment that is centered in students' social-emotional wellbeing," LAUSD Board President Kelly Gonez said in a press release. "The Board's investment in the Black Student Achievement Plan ensures we are actively working to promote equity across the District."

In addition to social workers and restorative justice advisers, the district will also install "climate coaches," who will work to encourage a positive school culture and address implicit bias.

The union representing the district's police force said the move "will place our children and staff in harm's way."

But others have supported the move, including a student advocacy group, "Students Deserve," which participated in protests advocating for the school board to defund the school's police force.

"We don't need police and handcuffs," said "Students Deserve" Director Joseph Williams. "I speak from personal experience as somebody who was criminalized at 13 years old and spent time in a juvenile detention center and was charged with assault and battery for getting in a fight with another kid."


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