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LAUSD announcing new strategies for student discipline

Yana Gracile | August 18, 2014

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LAUSD student disciplineA major shift is underway across LA Unified in how schools and administrators approach student disciplinary issues.

LAUSD officials and LA School Police Chief Steve Zipperman are planning to announce new district-wide protocols tomorrow that will define and limit the role of police on campus, incorporating new student protections and providing opportunities for students to receive help and support.

The announcement will take place at Manual Arts High School on Vermont Avenue.

One of the main changes directly impacts the school police and how officers issue student citations.

Officials from the Community Strategy Center, an LA-based human rights organization that focuses on civil rights, environmental justice, public health and the criminal legal system, say between 2009 and 2011, 33,000 tickets were given to young people under the age of 14 for truancy, tobacco, fights or assaults, and 1,000 students were booked and arrested each year.

Most of the citations led to court appearances or probation, undermining student success at school.

However, since the LA Unified school board passed the School Climate Bill of Rights in May 2013, redefining the role of police on school sites, among other things, there has been a significant drop in citations, according to the Center.

And now, officials say, the new policy will continue the trend of ticket reduction. Instead of handing out tickets, police will refer students involved in incidents to school administrators who will then refer them to various city and LAUSD Family Resource Centers for discipline interventions and help that they need.

“This is a new set of policies that is telling the school police, school district and administrators that we need to apply equally and rightfully protections for young people to make the school setting a much more supportive environment to be able to thrive,” Manuel Criollo, Director of Organizing for the Center, told LA School Report.

Another major change is that LAUSD, which previously had no support counselors, is hiring 35 restorative justice counselors this year to help some of the highest need schools, thanks to $4 million in funding from the Local Control Funding Formula.

The funding comes as a result of a bigger effort in May by LAUSD board member Monica Ratliff to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students by boosting the district’s custodial staff and cutting LASPD’s expansion budget.

Criollo said that 35 counselors isn’t enough, but it’s a good first step in a bigger movement to decriminalize student behaviors and maximize achievement.

At tomorrow’s event, Zipperman and community officials will be joined by two LA Juvenile Court judges — Michael Nash and Donna Groman —  and LA Unified board member Monica Garcia.

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