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The School Climate Bill of Rights

School Climate Bill of Rights passes LAUSD, 5-2 vote!


Landmark package of policy changes eliminates racialized “Willfull Defiance” suspensions, implements Restorative Justice, redefines school police role

We made civil rights history this week with the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition!  On Tuesday, the Board of the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) voted 5-2 to approve the School Climate Bill of Rights and roll back “zero tolerance” discipline in all LA schools.  The story is all over the local and national news.

Highlights of what we won

The School Climate Bill of Rights is a landmark package of changes that reverses “zero tolerance” policies which have led to the systematic punishment of Black youth in particular.  The Bill of Rights includes:

  • ending “Willfull Defiance” suspensions which have specifically targeted black students;
  • implementation of restorative justice programs to begin by 2015;
  • a plan for district-wide implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a proven alternative to “zero tolerance” that was adopted in 2007 but never widely implemented;
  • new policy principles to redefine and limit the role of the police in school discipline;
  • full text of the resolution as passed is available here.

What it took to win

Everyone did an amazing job on Tuesday to win this victory.  We started with an exhilarating rally outside with over 350 attending and our Drum&Chant crew leading the charge.  Then, we walked into the board meeting knowing we had three votes and needed at least one more to win.

We put up a strong line-up of speakers, with our own Ezinne Nwankwo from Cleveland HS Taking Action joining youth from Community Coalition, a parent from CADRE, a teacher at Augustus Hawkins HS, a principal from Garfield HS, and even the president of the LA School Police Officers Association!

By the end, we were able to sway not one but two votes to our side.  We want to thank Board President Monica Garcia for championing the resolution, and board members Steve Zimmer and Nury Martinez for their support.  We also thank board members Richard Vladovic and Bennett Kayser for having the courage to join the vote for the Bill of Rights.

The path ahead

For the Community Rights Campaign’s now 7-year campaign to roll back the racialized ticketing and arrests of LAUSD’s Black and Brown youth, the Bill of Rights is a downpayment toward reversing the pre-prison conditions in our schools. Last year, we amended the law (LAMC 45.04 Daytime Curfew) that was the #1 cause of police referrals of students into the criminal justice system (at one point over 10,000 a year) in the district.

There has been a lot of progress since then but LAUSD’s job is far from done.  LAUSD Superintendent Deasy will now put together a plan to implement the School Climate Bill of Rights.  We will need to stay vigilant and organized; there’s a lot of work ahead to make sure this victory is made real. The Bill of Rights is a platform we will use to advance toward our Equal Protection Plan to decriminalize student conduct and roll back the racialized tickets and arrests on campus.

The Bill of Rights also generates momentum for our efforts to pass statewide legislation to end “zero tolerance” in schools, especially our work on AB 549, which would create leverage to redefine and limit the role of police in schools across the state.

Giving thanks

We are so proud to be a founding member of the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition (BSS) that led this effort.  Our partners in the coalition are Brotherhood Crusade, Californians for Justice, Community Coalition, East L.A. YMCA, Gay Straight Alliance Network, InnerCity Struggle, Khmer Girls and Guys in Action.  We want to recognize Tonna Onyendu for all his work as BSS Campaign Manager.  We also want to thank BSS allies CADRE and Public Counsel, who did a lot of work with us.

Finally, our biggest thanks go to all the youth, parents, teachers, and community members of the CommunityRights Campaign who gathered petitions, went on advocacy visits to officials, worked in committees, organized on the buses, in schools and on the block over the past year to get us here.  We continue to believe that, with every new breakthrough in dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, we are advancing toward the end of racist mass incarceration.


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