CALIFORNIA—One of the most prominent teachers union in the city of Los Angeles voted on Friday, June 26 to reject the presence of entire police departments directly on school grounds.
United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), a union which represents 30,000 teachers in the region, passed a motion with a vote in the UTLA House of Representatives, largely coming out in support by a 154-56 margin, as the motion was adopted.
Earlier this month, the UTLA Board of Directors passed the same motion on June 2, even more decisively, with its members voting in favor 35-2.
As the union pointed out in a statement, this doesn’t defund the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD), but takes a stand against their existence. “Tonight’s vote means that UTLA officially supports police-free schools.” They continue, in part, “Any changes to the current school police policy happens with a vote by the LAUSD School Board.”
The vote is largely symbolic, with the union, and its membership, making its position clear: “We must break the cycle that has allowed increased police presence in schools of color.”
As the union pointed out, the final decision comes down to what the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) chooses to do, and they already rejected a proposal earlier in the week to slash funding for the LASPD up to 90% in the next four years.
This forced the hand of UTLA to pass a motion from within their organization, instead choosing to divert funds to help with mental health and counseling services.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed cutting the police budget by $100-$150 million, following protests in Los Angeles, and nationwide, after the death of George Floyd. Ultimately, this lead to the city council’s Budget and Finance Committee agreeing to cut $133 million from the budget of the Los Angeles Police Department, which will be in effect for fiscal year 2020-2021.
Whether or not this means specific cuts to the city’s School Police Department is unclear.