June 30, 2020
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and Task Force on Safe Schools Take First Steps to Address Statewide School Police Reform
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today convened a hearing that took a comprehensive look at the role of police officers in schools and the impact that law enforcement presence has on students, learning, and campus safety. The hearing was a three-part panel discussion that examined: different models of school policing, research and data on the impact and consequences of police officers in schools, and a framework for potential policy recommendations for reimagining school safety.
An archived broadcast of today’s hearing can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) Facebook page .
As many school districts re-examine the role and impacts of police on their campuses, Tuesday’s Task Force on Safe Schools hearing was the first step to address these issues on a statewide level and within the context of equity and racial justice.
“These are tough conversations that we have to have,” said Thurmond. “Addressing these challenges head-on will help steer us in the right direction. In looking at these issues, we do have to acknowledge that implicit bias and racism does exist, but doing this work together and keeping our students as the most important focus, will allow us to provide solutions that will not only keep our students safe but will make our school communities stronger. We must take all steps to ensure our students are not criminalized.”
The Task Force on Safe Schools was created in response to the current social climate that is focused on racial justice and putting a spotlight on implicit bias and institutional racism.
During Tuesday’s hearing, participants heard reports from State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond and researchers from WestEd and the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. Together, they provided an in-depth overview of data that indicates schools with police are not measurably safer than those without. Additionally, the research review indicated that schools with police had a disproportionate number of students of color arrested and removed from campuses.
The meeting also included viewpoints from law enforcement organizations including the National Association of School Resource Officers, the Richmond Police Department and the San Diego Unified School District Police Department, who shared personal stories about the positive relationships school officers have cultivated with the students they serve.
Prior to the hearing the State Superintendent provided a framework for policy recommendations including: establishing immediate best practices and requirements for school police; promoting and funding alternative programs such as restorative justice and intervention programs; and creating more data collection, monitoring, and accountability.
“This framework is not one-size-fits-all,” said Thurmond. “More research needs to be done so we can be clear regarding what the best alternatives are to current school police programs. The reality is that districts may elect to keep police officers on campuses, but there needs to be better training for officers and school staff in restorative justice practices. School police officers should not be viewed as or put in the position to be the school disciplinarian.”
At the conclusion of the hearing State Superintendent Thurmond outlined next steps, including future conversations in the coming weeks with state legislators on exploring funding for resources to implement restorative justice practices and training in areas such as de-escalation techniques and crisis management. Thurmond also announced the formation of a committee comprised of task force research partners and police organizations to review data and trends.
The lawmakers who participated in the hearing were:
- Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles)
- Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)
- Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco)
- Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland)
- Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella)
- Assemblymember Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara)
- Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles/Huntington Park)
- Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento)
- Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego)
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100