LA teachers union votes in support of eliminating LAUSD police, redirecting funds to student services

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The United Teachers Los Angeles union is calling for the elimination of the Los Angeles Unified School District police department amid widespread demands for sweeping police reform across the country.

In a 154-56 vote on Thursday, the UTLA House of Representatives passed a motion in support of disbanding the LAUSD school police and redirecting funds to mental health and counseling for students.

"The concept of police-free schools is not new,'' UTLA President-elect Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement. "Students and parents have been speaking their truth for many years, oftentimes going unheard. Police presence in schools leads to negative outcomes for Black and Brown students, who are arrested and disciplined at higher rates than their peers.''

LAUSD has faced recent calls to disband the force amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, and any actual policy change would need to come from the district's Board of Education. Earlier this week, however, the board rejected a proposal that would have cut 90% of the school police budget by 2024.

The 400-member force serves the Los Angeles Unified School District - the second largest in the country - and accounts for about $70 million of the district's $8 billion budget.

EMBED More News Videos

Amid growing calls from activists for the LAUSD to defund the school police department, board members on Tuesday discussed the future role of policing on campus.

"In passing this motion, UTLA is saying that we must break the cycle that has allowed increased police presence in schools of color, especially significantly Black schools, while academic and social-emotional supports are cut," the statement from Myart-Cruz said.

According to an ABC7 analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education released in 2018, nearly 50 schools within LAUSD have at least one police officer, but no counselor. Over 100 schools have police but are lacking at least one of the following: a counselor, a nurse, a psychologist or a social worker.

Other school districts have recently voted to eliminate police on school campuses, including those in San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Denver, Portland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charlottesville, UTLA reported.

City News Service contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.