CVMB Participates in Equity on the Mall 2019

Organized by the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, the Center at Sierra Health Foundation and community partners, including the Central Valley Movement Building, the annual Equity on the Mall was held in Sacramento on March 6th.

The event culminating at the State Capital included presentations by elected representatives community leaders, music, dance, spoken word and legislative visits about pressing issues impacting communities in the San Joaquin Valley.

As part of the Equity on the Mall event, a policy statement was released that focuses on Senate Bill SB 419, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, would do the following:

  • End Willful Defiance from the Education CodeSB 419 will improve student outcomes and encourage schools to adopt alternatives to suspensions and expulsions by:
  • Eliminating defiance/disruption suspensions and expulsions for students in grades 4-8;
  • Eliminating defiance/disruption suspensions and expulsions for students in grades 9-12 until January 1, 2025; and
  • Encouraging the use of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to help students gain critical social and emotional skills.

Download the Word Version of this statement, which includes footnotes to the sources.


Points

  1. In 2017-18, foster youth, Black students, and students with disabilities were four, three, and two times more likely to be suspended than their peers, respectively.
  2. State data reveal that students with disabilities were less than 13% of California’s student enrollment in the 2017-18 school year, yet they comprised 31% of disruption/defiance suspensions.
  3. Black students were less than 6% of enrollment, but nearly 16% of disruption/defiance suspensions in 2017-18.
  4. Further, research suggests that disparities in discipline for students of color are due in partto both unconscious and intentional discriminatory practices, which is particularly true for highly subjective offenses like disruption/defiance.
  5. Several studies confirm that Black students receive harsher punishments for minor and more subjective violations than White students. Studies also confirm that there is no evidence that Black students misbehave at higher rates.

Educational Justice — No LCFF Funding for SROs

Fueled by increasingly punitive approaches to student behavior such as “zero tolerance policies,” the past 20 years have seen an expansion in the presence of law enforcement, including school resource officers (SROs), in schools.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of school resource officers increased 38 percent between 1997 and 2007.1 Some cities, like New York City, employ more officers in schools than many small cities’ entire police force.

The question of school safety is about healthy educational environment.

The presence of SROs and cops on campus undermines the responsibility and agency of students, school administrators and staff, and the communities they serve to build transformative and positive school cultures that teach respect for students and commitment to student’s academic success.

In 2015/16, Central Valley school districts are among the top 5% of districts with the highest rates of school related arrests. In 2015-16, 158 student arrests were made in Sacramento City Unified, 159 in Fresno Unified School District, and in Clovis Unified, 114.

Reports also show a rising trend in students in disability being arrested. Central Valley districts represent only 23% of all districts with 1000 or more students, but 33% of the top 30 highest suspending districts for students with disabilities. 

Furthermore, in 2015/16 the Central Valley had 1,079,038 students enrolled, plus 607 full time police officers and 737 full-time security officers. There are more police officers and security guards in Central Valley schools (1,345 combined) than counselors (1,315.)

We need legislation that end the use of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds for School Resource Officers in school districts

The presence of SROs and referrals to police as feeding into the school-to-prison pipeline, we contend that the solutions to system-wide discrimination and violations of student rights requires not just changes in programs but also systemic changes in the culture of schools.

DOJ Settlement with Stockton Unified School District: Good Step Forward, But Not Far Enough

In January of 2019, the California Department of Justice settled a complaint against Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) for “system-wide violations of civil and constitutional rights of African American and Latino/a students and students with disabilities,” including high rates of referrals of these groups to law enforcement and on-campus arrests.

For Central Valley Movement Building (CVMB), one of our main objectives has been uniting and amplifying grassroots voices calling for the removal of Student Resource Officers (SROs) from schools throughout the Central Valley of California and across the nation. As part of our collective work with Dignity in Schools Campaign California,  CVMB released a press statement during the National Week of Action in October 2018 detailing not only high suspension rates of black and brown students in the Central Valley, but disproportionate rates of referral to law enforcement as well.

Click here to download the Press Release version of this statement.

Referrals to Laws Enforcement

In 2015-16 alone there were a reported 1,383 referrals to law enforcement in school districts including Elk Grove Unified (872 referrals), Stockton Unified (307 referrals) and Clovis Unified (203 referrals).

Furthermore in 2015-16, for the nearly 1.1 million students enrolled in Central Valley schools, districts employed only 1,315 counselors, versus 1,345 full-time police and security officers.

Considering such high rates of suspensions, referrals to the police, and arrests of black and brown students, including students with disabilities, we see the recent legal settlement with SUSD as a step forward in dismantling the ongoing discriminatory practices we have witnessed on campuses throughout the country.

The DOJ Settlement 

The settlement with SUSD includes five years of state monitoring of the district that requires staff and administrators to stop referring students to law enforcement for “low-level disciplinary conduct, including disorderly conduct, disturbance or disruption in school or public assemblies, school trespassing and loitering, use of profanity, and fighting that does not involve physical injury or a weapon.”

However, the settlement does not go far enough.

However, the settlement does not go far enough.

Although our communities have made strides to reform school discipline by way of interventions of parents, local education activist groups, Assembly Bill 420 (willful defiance), and programs like positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), statistical data still shows a repeated pattern of discrimination in suspensions and referrals to the police.

The data supports the argument that police on school campuses do not make our schools safer.

The presence of SROs on campus undermines the agency and responsibility of students, school administrators, and staff, as well as the communities they serve, to build transformative and positive school cultures that teach respect for students and commitment to academic success.

The presence of SROs on campus undermines the agency and responsibility of students, school administrators, and staff, as well as the communities they serve, to build transformative and positive school cultures that teach respect for students and commitment to academic success.

The settlement also calls for the creation of an Advisory Committee to include students, parents, educators, and community members for the purpose of providing “comments to the Department [DOJ] and the District on changes to [district] policies and procedures, the diversion program established alternative to citations and bookings, and submit recommendations to reduce the disproportionalities in the student referrals to law enforcement…”

Community Advisory Committee

CVMB agrees that the Advisory Committee is a crucial part of this agreement, and that it must be comprised of those who are truly representative of the community such as our partners at Fathers & Families of San Joaquin.

Nonetheless, we continue to see how the presence of SROs and referrals to police are feeding our children into the school-to-prison pipeline. Therefore we contend that the solution to system-wide discrimination and violations of student rights requires not just changes in programs but also systemic changes in the culture of schools and districts.

Counselors Not Cops

Instead of continuing to invest in the policing of schools, which does not make schools safer, we call for a commitment to community-centered alternatives like PBIS, cultural sensitivity training for administrators and teachers, and to shift money (including not using Local Control Funding Formula money) and resources away from contracts with the police departments and toward student support services like social workers and counselors.

We urge all the stakeholders in the Stockton area and throughout the Central Valley to monitor the progress of the DOJ settlement, and continue to demand accountability and action in order to remove the threat of SROs and similarly failed disciplinary procedures in order to make schools truly safer for our children.


Copies of the proposed final judgment and complaint, as filed with the court, are available here and here