LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines LAUSD Board of Education
333 South Beaudry Avenue, 24th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90017
Dear Superintendent Cortines,
We received the second copy of your June 19th letter addressed to us and the LAUSD board regarding our call for you to end all participation in the 1033 and return all weapons in your possession received from the program. We welcome the continued conversation. We will be at the board meeting on Thursday, July 30, and look forward to meeting with you, if possible, the week of August 3 to continue these discussions. Let us outline our sense of progress, our questions, and our concerns.
In terms of our mutual communication, we did not receive your email response of June 25. We are assured that you sent it but both of us have checked our inboxes and neither of us received them. In our correspondence with you we always send a hard copy follow up. Did you send a hard copy to us? Let’s agree in the future to that procedure. Our emails are: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send email copies to both of us and send hard copies to Labor/Community Strategy Center, 3780 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1200, Los Angele, CA 90010, and Attention: Eric Mann.
On the matters of substance, it is encouraging that you have informed us that “The Los Angeles School Police Department discontinued its participation in the DoD “1033 Program.” We have several questions:
1) When did that take place?
2) Is there a formal letter to the DoD informing them of that decision? If so, would you please send it to us? Have you sent it to the board?
3) Have you returned the 61 M-16 rifles that you reported were in your possession? You know there have been four previous correspondence and each time we have asked you to first give a full inventory of all the weapons you have ever received from the DoD 1033 program, which you have returned, and which you presently have. When you state that the LAUSD has “discontinued participation” it does not indicate whether you have returned all weapons from the 1033 program. Please inform us if you have and if so which weapons, when, and by what process?
As a civil rights organization with deep ties to the 700,000 LAUSD students and many of their parents we are constantly asked to monitor specific agreements for compliance. We are obligated to get clear
exactly what was done, when, what verification there is, and again what weapons does the LAUSD, if any, still have in its possession.
We want to express our concern that in our correspondence thin our view, you continue to take a very aggressive defense of the overall militarization of the schools while we have been calling for demilitarization — with the reduction in police and weapons moving towards the end of police in the schools as the objective. We don’t mind the debate but for example, to tell us, “the number one priority is educating our students and ensuring a safe and securing a safe and secure environment for that process to take place” and then go on about police it seems provocative. In our view the number one priority of the school board is to “educate the students” period–and even then we have real concerns about how that process is taking place. We feel that your continued conversation about “safety” is in your view a defense of police and weapons; whereas, the students have been testifying for years that the police presence itself creates a major problem in their own safety.
We also want to discuss the statement “that all the weapons [that you presently have] are ‘standard’ police force grade” which may be true but we want a full inventory of all the existing weapons outside of the 1033 Program since many of them are lethal in nature and pose a clear and present danger to the students.
We also feel that given that this is clearly a moral and political problem we wish you could acknowledge and empathize with the real concerns about institutional racism, civil rights, state violence and repression against Black and Latino communities and students, the growing nation-wide condemnation of the police and surveillance state on the part of religious leaders, parents, teachers, students and elected officials all over the country and the role of social movements in making the structural changes our society needs. .
We do feel you have the moral obligation to condemn the entire concept of 1033, there is no constraint on your speaking out against the program as a public educator and asking the LAPD and LA Sheriff’s Department to do the same.
We are unclear about your statement that you have taken our request to review the “current inventory” of weapons “forwarded to the proper channels…” We had hoped you would say that you will help us get that information and hope that is your intent. Clearly it is in your authority to do so.
We are very concerned that there is still a correspondence of words back and forth and very little effort to reach out to us to validate any of the concerns we have raised. At the time when we were working with the LAUSD and LASPD on issues of “school climate” and “civil rights for students” the LAUSD, without anyone’s knowledge, was applying to the DOD to get military grade weapons to use against students, teachers, and parents (who else would they be used against?) which has created a major setback in our relationship and in our view the Board’s relationship to the community. While we are truly pleased, if that is the case, that LAUSD is no longer in the 1033 program and has returned every single weapon it has received from the 1033 program–which we have no assurance is the case–it still raises the very disturbing question of why the LAUSD board, superintendent, and LASPD felt it needed and wanted those weapons in the first place–and who made the decision to apply and who made the decisions as to which weapons to request?
We look forward to our continued conversation which we hope to have in person next week at your convenience.
Fight for the Soul of the Cities