March 2, 2016
LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King, LAUSD President Steve Zimmer, Monica Garcia, George McKenna, Scott Schmerelson, Ref Rodriguez, Monica Ratliff, Richard Vladovic
Los Angeles Unified School District
333 South Beaudry Ave., 24th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90017
Dear Superintendent King:
We are calling on the leadership of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to create a motion to hold a Student and Community Accountability Session regarding the District’s participation in the Federal Department of Defense (DOD) 1033 program at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, March 8, 2016.
LAUSD’s decision to participate in the counter-insurgency DOD 1033 Program and its impacts on the educational, civil and human rights for LAUSD Black and Latino students and their communities needs to be given space and we need a public accountability session. This session will ensure that the greater community will have a public process to share their input and for the Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities campaign to present our demands and case on the violation of LAUSD’s Black and Latino students and families educational, human and civil rights.
From the beginning of this debate, we asked the LAUSD to give us a full inventory of all weapons in LASPD possession—the public has a right to know, debate, question, and reject it. It has been very painful for us and the people we represent to have to continue to debate with LAUSD about the moral unacceptability, in any way, to participate and collaborate with a U.S. government Department of Defense counter-insurgency program for over a year and half.
Instead of taking responsibility, LA School Police and the LAUSD Board of Education has basically refused to be held accountable for their decision to support a program that armed the Ferguson Police, Baltimore Police, Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ICE, the LAPD SWAT by participating in this indefensible program of counter-insurgency. Let’s call this for what this is; it’s a racist cover-up! LAUSD sneaked in these weapons, now you want to sneak them out. As a last insult, last week we received a defiant and aggressive letter announcing your decision to return the last weapons you had in your possession, with the expectation of acting like we can just move forward.
We believe that a way to redress the harm inflicted on the community by LAUSD and LASPD deciding to participate in this program is to have a public accountability session. It is critical that students and their families are provided with the complete facts and timeline of the District’s participation, receive a public apology, and the District provides redress for the LAUSD’s 18 year participation in the 1033 program.
We believe this request goes beyond a personal need rather it creates a transformative format for true public participation. As we wrote to you yesterday and in our past correspondence, we believe that LAUSD Board of Education meetings have fostered a discourteous and undemocratic culture of participation and engagement between students, parents and their communities and the LAUSD Board and staff. We believe that our request for a Student and Community Accountability Session with a time specific for the convenience of students and families, and a topic specific format will garner effective participation for LAUSD Black and Latino students, parents and community members. This must become LAUSD’s norm. Likewise, we hope you will encourage a richer and responsive culture at LAUSD. As you know Black and Latino students suffer various forms of racism, including the degrading way they are treated. Students understand this treatment as reflective of the negative view the system has about them. Therefore, when Black and Latino (and young women) students speak at public comment and the District representatives do not respond to them, this is interpreted as an act of racism and even if this is not people’s intent, it is the impact.
Eric Mann Manuel Criollo
Executive Director Director of Organizing
Barbara Lott-Holland Ashley Franklin
Associate Director Lead Organizer