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LA school police defunded: a victory for Students Deserve

Photos from the Students Deserve website

Students Deserve is a student-run organization within LAUSD that advocates for youth voices and actively works against injustices occurring against students. In June of 2020, Students Deserve along with a coalition containing Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, UTLA, and many other black community-led organizations pushed to divest $25 million from the Los Angeles School Police department. However, after a 13-hour meeting, SuperIntendent, Austin Buetner, did nothing but assemble a task force to discuss what would happen to the reallocated funds, but his plan lacked any student input. This fueled Students Deserve to create their own plan that would be made by Black students, for Black students.

After investing so much time to have student input in a much-needed space, only to be silenced, caused this organization to quickly get to production. Students Deserve began to create their proposal as to what to do with the $25 million. Their proposal, titled “The Black Student Achievement Plan”, consisted of Ethnic studies becoming a mandatory course, School Site Counselors to be active at all times on campus, programs allowing schools to work alongside organizations like Black Lives Matters Los Angeles, the adoption of the School Climate Coach position, and three committees to oversee the implementation of all the demands. What was incredible about this proposal is that it included Black student voices to accurately depict the needs and changes that needed to be made within the district. Amidst this proposal creation, Superintendent Austin Beutner was crafting a proposal of his own that allowed schools to opt-in for campus police, $14 million to be allocated to School site counselors, but he rejected the initial proposal. For Students Deserve, this alternative plan was unacceptable and they were not going to stand for a plan that completely went against the action they were trying to take, so they took to School board meetings.

Chapters from Eagle Rock High School, John Marshall High School, and Irving middle school came together to form speeches to advocate on behalf of Students Deserve’s proposal. This extensive process of collaboration led to impactful speeches and Eagle Rock’s very own, Sarah Goldstein, delivered a moving public comment. She beautifully explained the importance of the proposal and why it is necessary for our school district, “What allows LAUSD to thrive is the diversity within each school but the criminalization of Black and Brown students and the lack of intercultural teachings diminishes the individuality of said students”. The touching words given by students were truly an inspiring event to behold and while some Board members recognized the seriousness of what was being discussed, others showed disinterest. Although it was difficult to watch, it kindled Students Deserve to continue to strive for justice

On February 16, 2021, a board meeting was held to vote on the proposal and finally decide where the funds should go. This momentous meeting had been long awaited for Students Deserve, and everyone in the organization was hopeful for the verdict. After a long meeting, the unanimous votes had been tallied, and a ruling had been concluded...Students Deserve secured a major victory! The final ruling declared that there shall be no more police officers in schools, the initial $25 million cuts from LASPD along with an additional $11 million will be invested in Black students, and funding was secured for the transition of schools with high populations of Black students to community schools.

After gaining this victory, Students Deserve plans on fully defunding and abolishing LASPD and funding Black futures.

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