Support Students and Families
LAUSD is the second-largest school district in the nation and one of the most diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, and socio-economic status. To ensure that all students at LAUSD succeed, the district must leverage its resources to meet our students where they are, which includes providing supports beyond instruction in the classroom and respecting our students’ basic rights.
My name is Marshe’ Doss, and I’m a 12th grader at Dorsey High School in South LA. Every day, students at my high school are targeted for so-called “random” weapons searches, but everyone knows these searches are not random. Black students get picked more often. My Muslim friends get searched all the time. Students who are in non-honors and non-magnet classes get searched more often. Schools with more black students do searches more often. LAUSD’s search policy makes us feel like crimi- nals. It makes us think our education is not the district’s priority. When I’m taken out of class and searched, I feel like I’ve done something wrong even though some school officials go through my personal belongings and only take away my highlighters or hand sanitizer. My peers look at me and assume I must have done something wrong. I don’t feel ready to go back to class and learn.
Senior, Dorsey High School
Just the Facts
Only four percent of school districts in the nation conduct random searches, as Marshe’ describes, and LAUSD is one of them.1 Over the course of two years, the district conducted 34,000 “random” searches and only discovered 76 weapons—none of which was a firearm.2 It is a policy that disrupts teachers’ lessons and denies students classroom instruction, but does little to improve school safety. Instead, these searches are tainted by implicit racial bias that disproportionately affects students of color. 3
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Blue Ribbon Panel on School Safety recently recommended that LAUSD suspend the school searches, suggesting an audit to determine the future of the policy.4 LAUSD must cease the use of “random” metal detector searches and must instead invest in real methods to improve school safety, such as increasing health and human services staffing, addressing student social and emotional needs, reducing class sizes, and investing in a Community Schools model that builds community support inside and outside the school.
Immigrant Family Support
The federal administration’s immigration policies hurt our immigrant students and families. Traumatic events such as family separation can have lasting consequences on a child’s educational success.5 LAUSD must stand with immigrant students and families by creating a $1 million Immigrant Family Defense Fund to serve students and families facing adjudication under the federal administration’s immigration policy. The district should also provide training to all employees on district protocols for interaction with ICE and develop community partnerships to place immigrant support clinics at school sites.
In 2015, the LAUSD Office of the Inspector General released a report encouraging the district to strengthen its “greening” efforts.6 Green spaces have tangible effects on students’ academic performance and are linked to improved attention and superior working memory.7 Among cities in the US, Los Angeles ranks as one of the worst in regards to park availability, and how accessible parks are for a large segment of the population.8 The many unused bungalows on district campuses are an untapped source of green space. LAUSD should develop a plan to remove all unused bungalows and provide adequate green space at all schools by the end of next year.
Research shows that access to quality early education is critical to future success. LAUSD should develop a comprehensive plan on expanding early education. The district should recruit and retain high-quality early education teachers by addressing salary and working conditions issues that have long been ignored.
1 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “School safety and security measures”, retrieved from: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=334 (Note: using metal detectors)
2 Stokes, K., “How a shooting at LAUSD’s middle school fits into a bigger debate about the district’s security policy.”SCPR. 2. Feb. 2018
3 Nance. J.P., “Student Surveillance, Racial Inequalities, and Implicit Racial Bias.” University of Florida Levin College of Law. 66 Emory Law Journal 765 (2017) University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper No. 16-30. 27 Aug. 2016
4 Feuer, M., “The School Safety Report.” The Blue Ribbon Panel On School Safety. p.22
5 Gindling, T.H., & Poggio, S., “Family Separation and the Educational Success of Immigrant Children.” University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Policy Brief. UMBC Policy Brief No. 7 – March 2009. p.1
6 LAUSD Office of the Inspector General (OIG), “School Greening Initiatives” Facilities Services Division. 21 Jul. 2015 30Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., et. al. “Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren.” Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL). PNAS Vol. 112 No. 26.
7 Jun. 2015. p.1
8 The Trust for Public Land, “Park Score Rankings 2017” Park Score.