Our Week of Action Videos

As our part Central Valley Movement Building’s participation in the National Week Action, some of our partner organizations produced videos and posted videos about redefining safety, and supporting the campaign of the Black Organizing Project (BOP) to remove police out of the Oakland Unified School District.

We want to thank the Black Parallel School Board, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, and the Fresno Barrios Unidos for producing and sharing their video productions during the Week of Action.

In addition to the videos below, you can view (and follow us) more of our videos on our new YouTube page.

Black Parallel School Board

Dolores Huerta Foundation

Fresno Barrios Unidos

Fathers and Families

CVMB Supports BOP and the National Week of Action

Central Valley Movement Building and our partner organizations are participating in the National Week of Action Against School Pushout (October 19-27th), and giving full support of the Black Organizing Project Campaign to remove SROs from the Oakland Unified School District in 2020.

National Week of Action

During the Week of Action, CVMB partner organizations (Black Parallel School Board, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, Fresno Barrios Unidos, Legal Services for Children, and Tower of Youth) will host online video presentations that highlight teachers, parents, and students sharing their thoughts on school safety, student resource officers, and school climate, and the efforts to change the narrative about school safety in Central Valley schools. View and follow the CVMB Facebook page to get updates when the videos are posted.

On October 19, The Fresno EdJustice Coalition will provide a brave space for youth and allies to come together to learn more about the School to Prison Pipeline in the Central Valley, student rights on campus, and to collectively envision what a safe and supportive school might look like in Fresno. We will do this with activities, art, and an EdJustice Gallery Walk.
Contact Carrie L. Ayala, 209-286-7564, cvmbconnector@gmail.com for more information.

On October 21st, at its monthly Restorative Justice Practices meeting, the Black Parallel School Board will show the Central Valley and BOP Solidarity Week of Action videos, and followed by a special presentation by principal Jim Peterson of Burbank High School. Mr. Peterson will talk about the implementation of a restorative justice program at his school. That presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

One of the important ways to end school push-out, police in schools, and the criminalization of Black and Brown students in our Central Valley schools is to encourage and demand the implementation of restorative practices, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and cultural sensitive and anti-bias in all schools.

Our Week of Action Videos

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Traditional policies and forms discipline don’t help students succeed in school. One of the traditional policies is the suspending students for willful defiance. Earlier this month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 419 into law, expanding current protections for students that prevent subjective suspensions for “willful defiance/ disruption” in grades K-3 statewide, as well as prohibiting recommendations for expulsion for these offenses up through 12th grade.

SB 419 is an important milestone, but much more needs to be done. So join us in during the National Week of Action and share your stories of about redefining school safety and building culturally responsive schools and classrooms.

Note: CVMB is a partner of the Dignity in Schools Campaign – California. Check out its event page for activities being held across the state.

We Support BOP

In addition to the National Week of Action activities, we’re also supporting the Black Organizing Project in their 2020 goal to remove police from Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).

Click image to down view and download BOP’s data graphic.

OUSD is the only school district in the Alameda County with its own police department, the Oakland School Police Department (OSPD.)

The average teacher salary in OUSD is $59K, whereas the the Chief of Police salary is $180K.

Black students represent 26% of OUSD enrollment, but they make up 58% of the office referrals. Black students are disproportionately pushed out into the OUSD continuation schools. They make up 42% of students in continuation schools.

Black youth in OUSD make up 73% of the students arrested. 87% of Black students arrested are males, and 27% of them have a disability.

The BOP campaign has the following demands:

  • Elimination of OSPD by 2020. No contracting with OPD or any law enforcement agency.
  • Restructuring security personnel to become support mentors.
  • Invest money used by law enforcement into harmony school counselors, special ed aides, etc..
  • Community Oversight Body which reviews all complaints, options of reparations for any student traumatized by law enforcement or security interactions.

CVMB and its partners have already signed BOP’s Sanctuary Pledge, and we encourage supporting organizations to do the same.

Other organizations, like the Black Parallel School Board have also been working in coalition with Sacramento activist groups to get police removed from school. See our recent article on what is being done in the Sacramento Unified School District.

Your Feedback

We hope that you will be able to participate in the National Week of Action, and would definitely like to your feedback and questions about the work that CVMB and its partner organizations are doing. Drop us a comment below. ,

SCUSD Is Not Reimagining Safety

Last August, the Sacramento Unified School District (SCUSD) board members voted 6 to 1 to renew a contract with the Sacramento Police Department, though the board said back in June it would not renew the contract.  

The latest contract calls for a reduction of school resources officers (SROs), from 11 to 3, to patrol 70 campuses in the district, and the hiring of a Police Sergeant to work with the new Director of Schools Safety. The new contract is a part of the district’s “Reimagine School Safety” plan.

The reduction in the number of SROs is in response to a controversial debate and consistent outcry of students and parents who rightly see SROs as doing more harm than good. The contract results in school administrators relying on SROs to respond to disciplinary issues and school conflicts that should not be their responsibility, but should remain the responsibility of administrators and school security guards. 

In 2015/16 there were 158 school related arrests. In that same time period, Black students only represented 15% of the student enrollment, but they represented 37% of all referrals to law enforcement, and 37% of all school related arrests. Statistics show that Black and Brown students are disproportionately targeted and charged by law enforcement. 

Black students only represented 15% of the student enrollment, but they represented 37% of all referrals to law enforcement, and 37% of all school related arrests. Statistics show that Black and Brown students are disproportionately targeted and charged by law enforcement. 

As Alma López, Statewide Coordinator for Brown Issues, and former Parent Advisor at Luther Burbank High School pointed out, “Safety Resource Officers on school campuses are there to enforce criminal laws; every violation of a school rule can be considered a criminal act if viewed from a police lens” 

Reimagining School Safety Plan

A month before the SCUSD board decided to renew the contract, a restorative justice coalition of community groups, including Brown Issues, Black Parallel School Board, Blacks Making a Difference, Hmong Innovating Politics, Sacramento ACT, and Self Awareness & Recovery, convened a community forum and called for the board to not renew the contract. Participants in the forum recommended alternatives to SROs on school campuses. Recommendations for the $1.5 million budget include hiring more school counselors and psychologists, and implementing and strengthening restorative justice and PBIS programs.

To their credit, a few SCUSD board members attended the community forum to listen to the concerns of the community, but the district’s committee that developed the safety plan did not formally meet with members of the coalition to get their input.

The Roles of Administrator and Law Enforcement 

When the committee introduced the plan to board members, their presentation highlighted examples of appropriate roles for school administrators and law enforcement. 

The roles of site administrators, the committee listed, includes addressing issues of student insubordination and defiance, disorderly conduct, failure to participate in class, possession of alcohol and marijuana, abuse and other forms of harassment that do not fall under any penal code. 

The listed roles of law enforcement include responding to calls for dealing with assault and battery, firearm violations, supervision of athletic and extracurricular activities, intruders on campus, and investigation of safety and welfare checks. Such criminal activity should not require a separate district contract for hiring SROs, because local law enforcement are already being paid to respond to criminal activity.   

Let’s Reimagine Safety  

One SCUSD board member pointed out that the district Reimagine School Safety plan doesn’t really address reimagining safety. She’s correct. Reimagining safety would first off not include the need for SROs, but it would emphasize the development of restorative justice and PBIS programs and practices. 

Secondly, the District’s plan would promote discipline with dignity, and would include cooperative learning, equitable classroom management systems, better training of all staff, and cooperative development of school safety plans. 

 Safety Resource Officers on school campuses are there to enforce criminal laws; every violation of a school rule can be considered a criminal act if viewed from a police lens.  —Alma López

Thirdly, a safety plan would require the District to produce semi-annual data on interactions (number of referrals and arrests, etc) with law enforcement so that parents, students, administrators can work together to resolve conflicts. 

The reliance on SROs and harsh discipline and arrests serve to especially criminalize Black and Brown students. The constant presence of law enforcement in and around schools undermines the role of administrators, parents, students and communities to exercise agency in addressing disciplinary problems and building positive and healthy school climates. 

Reimagining safety means schools should turn away from outdated, punitive practices that hurt students and families, and promote working together to build healthy schools where all students are respected and given opportunities and support to grow and learn.

Our Week of Action Videos

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DSC CA Holds Parent Organizing Exchange

The Dignity in Schools Campaign – California (DSC CA) held its first extremely successful Regional Parent Exchange in Fresno, CA, guided by the theme: “Me to We” “Yo a Nosotors”.

The well attended convening took place on July 13 for the purposes of developing a collective understanding of what parent engagement is, and what it means to be a part of DSC CA. Other objectives included:

  • Create an understanding of everybody’s work
  • Learn about the work that is happening across the state of California
  • Create solidarity across the state
  • Gain understanding that parents are change agents
  • Incorporate healing as an intentional practice for the entire conference

It was beautiful to see a conference room of approximately 90 activist parents and staff members of various organizations share stories of their accomplishments, challenges, and visions for educational justice in schools across the state. The convening also included childcare so that parents wouldn’t have to leave their children behind.

Participating Organizations

Education activist organizations and DSC CA partners included the Black Organizing Project and Coleman Advocates out of the Bay Area; Building Healthy Communities Salinas, MILPA and Youth Alliance from the Central Coast region; Tower of Youth, Black Parallel School Board, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Fathers and Family of San Joaquin, and Fresno Barrios Undios from Central Valley region, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) of Inland Valley, and out of Los Angeles, the Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE) and Public Counsel. These organizations advocate on the part of parents and students throughout the California regions by bringing attention to systemic discrimination and school pushout of Black And Brown students in California schools.

The primary goal of DSC CA affiliated organizations is to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Many of these organizations include parent organizers, organizational staff members and community supporters who attend and speak out at school board meetings, make recommendations to LCAP plans, advocate the removal of SROs on campuses, and help students and parents confront the harsh discriminatory schools policies and practices that push out Black And Brown students, foster youth and youth with disabilities, and even formally incarcerated parents who are often denied the right to visit the schools their children attend.

Because the convening consisted of both Spanish and English speakers, every part of the conference included translators. While most presentations and sharing were done in English and translated through headsets for Spanish-speaking participants, presentations and feedback was also done in Spanish and translated in English. This was truly empowering to make sure all voices were heard.

Workshop Presenters

Tia Martinez and Manuel Criolla

The conference was honored to have Manuel Criollo give a powerful presentation, “Educational Justice & Parent Organizing,” about the history of education injustice, racism, and discrimination in the U.S..

Tia Martinez, who has provided numerous data presentations throughout the state about school suspensions and police arrests, gave an equally well received presentation about the School-to-Prison Pipeline, with a particular focus on how job closures starting in the 1970s and forms of racial discrimination have led to mass incarceration of particularly Black and Brown parents and workers.

Keynote Speakers

Roslyn Broadnex

Keynote speaker, Roslyn Broadnex

Parent organizer, Roslyn Broadnex, of the Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE) out of Los Angeles gave a powerful and personal presentation on the meaning of parent organizing and the importance of Black and Brown parents and communities fighting together for systemic change.

Roslyn is senior core leader of CADRE, an independent, community-based, organizing and social justice-driven parent membership organization in South Los Angeles, founded in 2001.

Dolores Huerta

Keynote speaker, Dolores Huerta

Saturday’s conference was even more honored to have the iconic labor union organizer and civil rights leader, Dolores Huerta speak about Black and Brown unity, dismantling systems of oppression, the importance of voting, and taking over the school boards.

Ms. Huerta now heads the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a community benefit organization headquartered in Bakersfield, which recruits, trains, organizes, and empowers grassroots leaders in low-income communities to attain social justice through systemic and structural transformation. DHF hires and trains full-time organizers who form neighborhood organizations called Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors).

DSC CA Facebook Page

Click the box to see more photos and videos. Follow the Facebook for more updates.

Parent Advocacy

The Parent Organizing Exchange ended the day with breakout sessions of the five regions of California to discuss and strategize ideas for continued parent organizing in their communities.

Parent participants shared how they not only advocate for they own children, but other children in the schools and communities who are targeted by discriminatory racist policies and practices that lead to high rates of school suspensions, particularly of Black and Brown students.

Partner groups of DSC CA include parent organizers who visit schools and observe classrooms, attend Special Education IEP meetings with parents and their child, make demands for increasing the literacy rate of elementary students, push for government legislation to end suspensions for willful defiance, call for the removal of and ending district contracts with School Resource Officers (SROs, and support useful programs like Restorative Justice and PBIS in schools.

The success of the Parent Organizing Exchange left no doubt in everyone’s mind that the conference would be annual gathering of grassroots organizers who fulfill the mission of Dignity Schools Campaign-California.

How to File a Uniform Complaint Procedure Form

When it comes to defending the civil rights of children, youth, and staff of any school district, do you know that there’s a California state mandated process called the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) that gives you the right to file a complaint with your school or district or ultimately the California State Department of Education to resolve injustices occurring in your school or district? 

The following is a brief summary of the UCP and the process for filing a complaint. This article does not address every aspect of the UCP process. You will need to investigate the particular procedures to follow for your school or district. However, if the process seems complicated, there are legal services that can assist you in filing a UCP complaint.

What the UCP Covers

The UCP complaint is a written and signed statement alleging a violation of select federal and state laws. 

The UCP addresses forms of discrimination including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Unlawful discrimination based on race, gender, or mental or physical disability
  • Sexual harassment
  • Health and safety complaints
  • Bullying and intimidation of a student or students
  • Disciplining of students
  • Homework policies and practices
  • Dress codes and uniforms
  • The selection of textbooks and materials
  • The lack of adequate textbooks and school materials

The UCP has been used to also address complaints for state and/or federal laws in the areas such as adult education, bilingual education, child care and development, course periods without education content, eduction for students in foster care and homeless children, migrant education, and lack of English Language Learner programs. 

When and How to File a Complaint

A complaint can be files on your own, but you can join forces with other parents whose child or children are impacted by forms of discrimination other violations the UCP covers.

Put your complaints in the form of a letter to your school or district administrator and/or school board representative. Be sure to include the names of school or district administrators. 

Every school and district (or what is legally called Local Education Agencies (LEA)) are required to post and make available Uniform Complaint Procedures. You want to first check your school’s or district’s website for a posting of the UCP form and process. At the end of this article, we include links to UCP procedures for a few schools and districts in the Central Valley.

Some districts have the complaint form available that you can review and fill it out. Some districts may not have a form. Here’s a sample form from the California Department of Education. You can also write the complaint as a letter.

Members of the Central Valley Movement Building team and associated legal services can also help you fill out the complaint form. 

What Happens Next 

  • After the form is submitted to the California Department of Education, the department will review the complaint to see if falls within the purview of UCP. 
  • The LEA (your school or district) must investigate the complaint or issue and provide a written response within 60 calendar days. 
  • The complaint is agreed upon by the LEA, the agency (school or district) is required to develop corrective plan of action. If the complaint is deemed not valid, the complaint is closed. 
  • If the complaint is deemed valid and the LEA fails to adequately address issues raised in the complaint, the complaint is referred back to the LEA once more to resolve within 20 calendar days. 
  • If the LEA doesn’t address and resolve the complaint, the State Superintendent (or his or her designee) may respond to the matter and may require corrective actions if it deems the complaint valid. 

Sample Complaint Forms and Postings  

Your Questions?

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to read this article, let us know what questions you have about the Uniform Complaint Procedures. If you have experience using the UCP process, we would love to hear from you about that process went.

Central Valley Education Justice Forum Hosted in Fresno, CA

Over one hundred and forty parent activists, youth, and Central Valley organizations attended the annual Central Valley Movement Building (CVMB) Education Justice Forum hosted at the Falls Event Center in Fresno, CA.

The purpose of the CVMB forum is to create a unique space for networking, to increase awareness and engagement about school discipline reform, and to redefine a healthy school environment.

As part of CVMB’s mission, the annual forum critically examines the school-to-prison pipeline which hinders positive interactions for students in schools. Instead, punitive practices funnel students from schools into to the juvenile and adult criminal system, and essentially pushes them into prisons.

The forum drew together parents, community members, and youth from the nine Central Valley counties—Kern, Kings, Fresno, Madera, Merced, South Sacramento, Stanislaus, and Tulare.

Groups and organization represented include the Dolores Huerta Foundation, the Black Parallel School Board, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, Fresno Barrio Unidos, Yo Cali!, Tower of Youth, Hmong Innovating Politics, and Merced Black Parallel School Board, Gay Straight Alliance, East Bay Asian Youth Center, Youth Leadership Institute, Fresno Metro Ministry, Dignity in School California, NoMedia, and Weaver Unified School District.

Keynote Speaker

Fresno native and community activist, Dayana Contreras, moderated the Education Justice Forum, and Reyna Castellanos provided professional translation and interpreting services.

Tia Martinez

The forum kicked off with a presentation by Carrie Ayala, CVMB’s own regional connector. Carrie provided an overview of the purpose and work of the CVMB and how it works to connect organizations and people throughout the Central Valley.

The next presenter was Tia Elena Martinez from Forward Change. Tia is currently an independent consultant doing work on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and transforming life changes for boys and men of color.

Tia’s presentation consisted of powerful data highlighting student suspensions and arrests occurring throughout schools and districts in the Central Valley. More importantly, she conveyed the urgent need for community organizing to eliminate punitive disciplinary practices, especially for vulnerable student populations such as foster students, Black students, and students with disabilities.

Know Your Rights Training

In order to inform participants about the law to better protect students in situations involving law enforcement, Nicole Bates, Julia Love, and Melina Hettiaratchi of Legal Services for Children, provided an informative and popular Know Your Rights training. Participants learned about the fourth and fifth amendment in relation to the educational system and the history of Student Resource Officers (SROs) on school campuses.

400%: Schools employing school police see increases in student offenses and school-based arrests by as much as 400%.

Though the intended purpose of the SROs is to “prevent crime and respond to emergency situations” on school campuses, the reality is that the increased police presence leads to more school based arrests and referrals to law enforcement, particularly for students of color, LGTBQ students, and students with disabilities. Cops on campus also result in the criminalization of minor student behavior in classrooms and schools in general.

Student Breakout Session

For the first time at CVMB, the annual forum included a breakout session for the 20+ student attendees. Students held small group discussions to discuss what supports and changes they would like to see in their schools in order to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline.

Thank You

On behalf of the Central Valley Movement Building Coordinating Team, and especially Maria Madril Hernandez who lead the preparation of the forum, we want to thank all those who participated. The work you do in your school and communities is instrumental to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline in the Central Valley and all of California.


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Why CVMB Backs Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS)

Members of the Central Valley Movement Building, a coalition that works with parents and education activists in regions of the Central Valley in California, are dismayed and concerned about the reported lack of confidence that Visalia Unified School District has in using Positive Behavior Intervention and Suports as a way to address disciplinary related issues in the classroom and schools.

The recently published article, the Visalia Times, titled “VUSD trustee: PBIS is broken, not worth fixing. Is he right?” raises more questions than it answers. Among the questions we have include:

  • What are parents and students saying about the reported incidents of misbehavior in schools?
  • What type of resources and supports (Third Tier) have schools been using to help students who are the most disruptive?
  • And how have schools and teachers tried to reach out to parents and invite them to be partners in creating a positive school climate?

We are aware that many teachers are calling for using school suspensions and expulsions as a form of behavior management, but research shows that these punitive policies and practices disproportionally impact Black and Brown students, and it means that the more time students miss school for whatever reason, the more likely those students will have difficulty graduating, and many will end up in juvenile detention centers or jails.

research shows that these punitive policies and practices disproportionally impact Black and Brown students, and it means that the more time students miss school for whatever reason, more likely those students will have difficulty graduating, and many will end up in juvenile detention centers or jails.

PBIS Properly Implemented

If PBIS is properly implemented it results in all students developing and learning social, emotional, and behavioral competence, which supports their academic engagement. Additionally, all educators develop positive, predictable, and safe environments that promote strong interpersonal relationships with students through teaching, modeling, and encouragement.

PBIS properly implemented also results in:

  • Reductions in major disciplinary infractions, antisocial behavior, and substance abuse
  • Reductions in aggressive behavior and improvements in emotional regulation.
  • Improvements in academic engagement and achievement
  • Improvements in perceptions of organizational health and school safety
  • Reductions in teacher and student reported bullying behavior and victimization
  • Improvements in perceptions of school climate
  • Reductions in teacher turnover

We think Visalia USD should review its PBIS programs, and actively partner with parents and community groups address issues of bullying, problems with classroom management, and other various complaints.

Examples of PBIS Resources

  • an on-site mental health clinic
  • art and music classes to help students express themselves
  • on-call support for teachers
  • ongoing professional training for teachers
  • behavior circles
  • student referrals to a psychologist or social worker
  • work and recreational supports for students
  • enrollment in a program teaching prosocial behavior or anger management participation in a restorative justice program
  • after-school programs that address special behavior issues or expose students to positive activities and behaviors
  • participation in an on-site or community-based restorative justice program

Our Recommendation

We think Visalia USD should review its PBIS programs, and actively partner with parents and community groups address issues of bullying, problems with classroom management, and other various complaints. No single solution will fix the problem.

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.


  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

CVMB Holds All-Partner Planning Meeting

Central Valley Movement Building held its second and last All-Partners Convening for this year, for the purposes for developing education activists goals for the Valley in 2019.

Representatives in the meeting included Fresno Barrio Undios , Fathers and Families of San Joaquin (Stockton), Black Parallel School Board (Sacramento), the Dolores Huerta Foundation (Arvin, Weedpatch, Lamont, Sanger, Palier, and Bakersfield), the Merced Black Parallel School Board, and activists from Lamont, Vineland, Arvin, and Madera.

Unlike the first convening held in April, this meeting focused primarily on planning for next year. Meeting participants grouped together to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, and threats of their organization and education activist work.

All the groups have been building relationships with parents, schools and districts, and board members and superintendents in their respective areas around issues of racial discrimination, student referrals to police, and making recommendations to Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). 

Counselors Not Cops

All participants expressed deep concerns about the presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) on campuses. The presence of SROs contribute to a negative, punitive school climate, and they undermine the type of positive reinforcements, such as counselors and other support staff. 

CVMB Coordinating member, Carl Pinkston, provided recent 2015-16 data about the number of referrals to police in the Central Valley, including Sacramento.

Representatives of the Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, and the Merced Black Parallel School Board

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.

The National Association of School Resource Officers “estimates that there are 14,000 to 20,000 SROs nationwide.

The Root

SROs are typically paid law enforcement officers assigned to campuses, and extra tax dollars are budgeted for contracts with police departments monitor and give out referrals to students.

But as the Dignity in Schools Campaign California reiterated in last month’s National Week of Action, tax dollars and resources for schools should be used for counselors, not cops.

Members of the convening all agreed that focus must be to redefine school safety, which does not include SROs, but an effective implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), restorative justice programs, cultural sensitivity and classroom management training for teachers and staff, and building a positive school climate.

April Convening

Central Valley Movement Building will hold a larger convening in April focused on the challenges and strategies for parent organizing, including how to address the issues of cops on campus.