Last Update: Thursday, December 05, 2013
|Minorities Still Feeling The Brunt Of LAUSD, School Police Discipline Policies|
|Written by Mike Terry Sun Contributing Writer|
|Thursday, 31 October 2013 05:13|
Activist Group Contends Latino And African American Students Are Ticketed And Arrested At Higher Rates Than White Students
The activist organization Community Rights Campaign (CRC) was pleased to announce that, thanks in part to changes in the policies and procedures of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and its school police, the amount of tickets issued to elementary, middle school and high school kids was being reduced.
At the same time, CRC representatives were also taking the district and school police to task for what it claimed were still inordinate amount of ticketing and arrests Latino and African American students were subjected to in contrast to white students.
At its press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 30, the CRC released a 51-page report titled "Black, Brown And Over-Policed In L.A. Schools," addressing these issues as well as offering alternative ideas in regards to disciplinary action.
"There is progress and reform that communities have engaged the district to change policies and there have been real changes. We are seeing a dip in the tickets. But we're also seeing there continues to be a racial pattern of ticketing," said Manuel Criollo, a CRC organizer.
For example, Criollo said, African American youth were being ticketed at a rate of 3.8 students for every one white youth. In 2012, that number had risen to 5.8 to 1. He added that Latino students received tickets in contrast to white students at a rate of 5.9 to 1.
The report also cited several Valley area middle and high schools in Pacoima, San Fernando, Reseda, Sun Valley and Van Nuys were listed among the LAUSD schools with the highest rates for tickets and arrests (see accompanying chart).
According to the report, LAUSD is responsible for 662,000 students, making it the second largest school district population in the country after New York City. Its racial breakdown is 88 percent students of color, including 72 percent Latino, 10 percent African American, 10 white, and four percent Asian.
According to the CRC, the rate of African American students receiving ticket or be arrested, in contrast to white students for the same infractions, has risen from 3.8 to 1 in 2010 to 5.8 to 1 in 2012. Latino students are twice as likely to receive tickets or be arrested than white students.
Among the offenses tickets are issued include disturbing the peace, daytime curfew violations, possession of small amounts of marijuana or tobacco, vandalism, graffiti, and owning tools for vandalism and graffiti, i.e. spray paint cans.
Battery is the major offense leading to arrest.
"We show that issued tickets have actually dropped roughly 50 percent in 2012-13 due to changes in truancy and curfew law," Criollo said. "Truancy tickets are almost never given. Daytime curfew laws were for young people leaving school, but schools were using the law for students who were late to school. They were more popularly known as 'tardy' tickets."
Criollo said changes in district and police policies, and the adoption of the School Climate Bill of Rights by the district in May, had led to drastic reduction in the number to tickets issued for minor infractions.
LAUSD had the highest Student Criminalization Rate of all its peer large districts in 2011-2012, the report said. It criminalized its students at five times the rate of New York City, and almost nine times the rate of Miami-Dade, both of which have their own well-documented problems with "over-policing" of schools.
During the 2011-2012 school year, there were a total of 8,993 arrests and tickets of students by LASPD, which is more than any other district has reported. "To put that in perspective," the report said, "the entire state of Pennsylvania – which has faced intense criticism for its use of police in school – had only 5,837 for a student population of 1.8 million."
The report did acknowledge that LAUSD and LASPD have reduced truancy ticketing by 80 percent and that school police ticketing across all categories is down by as much as 50 percent. But CRC argues that "the racialization of tickets and arrests has worsened," and proposes the elimination of issuing tickets all together.
"The vast majority of LASPD's arrests and tickets in 2011-2012 were for behavior that posed little to no serious threat to the physical safety of students or staff members," the report said. "While these are all behaviors that should be discouraged and addressed, it is clearly excessive for the police and the court system to be involved in these issues at all. These are all behaviors that can and should be handled using existing LAUSD school discipline policies, like School-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and restorative justice, with the involvement of parents, teachers, administrators, and school support staff such as counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses. We cannot imagine these behaviors being criminalized in wealthier white suburban schools."
In a statement, the LAUSD said the data shows that "Students are now cited by the dozens, no longer by the thousands – 3,356 in 2010; 2,625 in 2011 and 726 in 2012. Attribute that progress to a change in policies that are more proactive than reactive. Students who are truant s are now directed to a non-court, district-sponsored, diversion program. Also, a youngster is no longer ticketed when close to the campus as the first bell rings; late, yes; talked to, yes; intervention and support at the school, consequences definitely; but no citation."
Criollo said CRC continues to talk to LAUSD board members, and is urging the district for further reforms.
"We calling on the school board and police to adopt the Equal Protection Plan we have created," he said. "It would limit the involvement of school police in discipline, end ticketing and arrests for elementary and middle school students, and insure schools with high rates of tickets and arrests be supported to provided other alternatives and funding for creating positive school environments and restorative justice programs.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 06:08|