Los Angeles Unified School District funds the largest independent school police department in the United States. This past school year alone, the district allotted $70 million to the Los Angeles School Police Department1. This brief provides an analysis of district wide school incident reports, funding trends for LASPD, and LAUSD students’ reported feelings of safety at school. Key findings:
School incident reports are on the rise and there is an increasing need for mental health providers.
LAUSD student enrollment has decreased, meanwhile funding for LASPD has exponentially increased despite evidence showing that schools are not safer.
Black students do not feel safe in school and have negative perceptions of school police.
To meet student needs, LAUSD should decrease funds for LASPD and increase funds for school nurses and mental health providers.
Brief's Discourse in the Media
“While these incidents can include mundane matters such as lost keys, those that appeared to fall under the purview of police rose 76% over the eight school years ending in 2018-19. Meanwhile, calls for students who are exposed to trauma and violence or who are displaying suicidal behavior rose 906% over that same period, in what researcher Elianny Edwards said shows “an increasing need for mental health providers.”
An excerpt from the Los Angeles Times discussing the brief's findings in the broader conversation of LAUSD divesting from their school police department
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“It's really important to listen to black students and invest in the things that'll help make them feel safe at school. And one of the things that they're saying is making them feel unsafe in school is school police."
Elianny C. Edwards
A quote from Education Week discussing if school police make Black students feel more or less safe
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“While our data on the LASPD budget are estimations, they still point to an ongoing trend that the LASPD budget is growing while the student population that they are supporting is declining. Today, there are 130,000 less students in LAUSD than in 2005.”
Earl J. Edwards, BMI Researcher
UCLA Knowledge That Matters interviews BMI researchers to discuss the implications of the briefs findings.
Read Knowledge That Matters' Full Article