As education workers whose jobs are to ensure clean, safe and supportive learning environments for students, we have been addressing the issue of defunding school police within our union. It is not an easy debate, but one thing is clear to us: change is necessary.
The LAUSD school board will be taking on the issue of school police at their June 23, 2020 meeting. Our union has made the decision to support Board Member Monica Garcia’s Resolution 30: “Reimagining School Safety and Investing in our Highest Need Students.”
SEIU Local 99 members have always been strong advocates for equity and justice in our schools. From supporting the A-G Promise, Breakfast in the Classroom, Equity Need Index, Immigration Safe Zones and other issues critical to our communities, we’ve always believed that what happens outside the classroom has a deep impact on what happens inside the classroom. It is from this perspective that we call for LAUSD to defund policing and reimagine safety in our schools.
We believe Board Member Monica Garcia’s resolution retains the school police resources that are needed to keep students and staff safe, while divesting from practices and policies that criminalize our children.
As the district reallocates funds, we will continue to be strong advocates for safe schools. We believe any new model for safety must include support and protections for all students and school employees, including custodians who often work lone shifts at night. We are also calling on the district to consider the impact of this change on the livelihoods of dedicated employees. We urge LAUSD to provide them with opportunities as we transition to a new model.
This moment in our history is teaching us that we can no longer accept incremental change. If we are serious about ending systemic racism, we must listen to the voices of our children. We must learn from our own pain and shortcomings. We must take the bold, courageous steps now to create a better future.
Max Arias, Executive Director