What Happened After LA Schools Cut Police Funds and Hired Mental Health Staff for Black Students


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Ways to Support ABHM?

By Aaricka Washington, Capital B

Now other students around the country want to follow their lead.

Channing Flagg holds a sign during a news conference held by Students Deserve outside the Los Angeles Unified School District office on June 3, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

Kyla Payne distinctly remembers being on edge any time she entered Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. The 16-year-old felt uncomfortable being monitored by campus police officers who seemed to be intent on finding crimes and rule violations that weren’t there, Payne said…

“For Black students, we literally had to sit back and watch the entire world debate whether or not our lives actually mattered,” said Simya Smith,16, a member of Students Deserve. 

After a yearlong outcry from students and community members, the LA school board in February 2021 approved a plan to cut $25 million – a third of the school police budget – and shift those funds into a $36.5 million initiative called the Black Student Achievement Plan. The mission is to support the mental and academic well-being of Black students in the nation’s second-largest school district, adding 221 psychiatric social workers, counselors, “climate coaches,” and restorative justice advisers to schools with the highest number of Black students. The new staffers especially target campuses with higher rates of suspension, chronic absenteeism, and low student achievement. 

The climate coaches help de-escalate conflicts and provide social and emotional support for struggling students. The district said the coaches would be residents from the communities that their schools serve. The restorative justice advisers help shift the schools’ disciplinary practices to focus on rehabilitation and reconciliation to address conflict and crime.

Find out how this initiative plans to make a difference for black students here.

Read about the issue of police in schools and how the pandemic impacted Black and Latino students.

More breaking news here.

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