DSC Members Celebrate Victory in Los Angeles
On Tuesday, May 14, DSC members CADRE, Public Counsel Law Center, Labor/Community Strategy Center, and Children's Defense Fund-California working with the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition of Los Angeles on the Every Student Matters Campaign celebrated a groundbreaking victory when the Los Angeles Unified School Board approved a School Climate Bill of Rights that: bans suspensions for willful defiance; calls for stepped up implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support and for the first time Restorative Justice; makes discipline, citation, and school arrest data available to students and parents; and clarifies the role of police in schools.
This victory comes after years of organizing to reduce suspensions and end pushout in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). In 2007, CADRE parents fought to pass a School-Wide Positive Behavior Support policy and for the past six years have worked with allies in DSC-Los Angeles to demand full implementation of the policy and to end the disproportionate suspension of African American students.
At the board meeting, students, parents and advocates showed up in force, where representatives from CADRE, Public Counsel and other organizations testified about the disproportionate impact of suspensions, especially for the arbitrary category of “willful defiance.” 26% of the students suspended in LAUSD during 2010-11 school year were African American, although they only made up 9% of the student population.
In most cases, the charge of "willful defiance" is applied to minor infractions like "refusing to take off a hat", "turn off a cellphone", or "failing to wear a school uniform". 48% of the 710,000 suspensions issued in California during the 2011-12 school year were for "willful defiance". The LAUSD board voted 5 to 2 to end the practice.
Listen to Maisie Chin of CADRE speak about the vote on NPR
05/14/13 - L.A. Unified School District Bans Suspension for 'Willful Defiance'
05/12/13 - LAUSD Board Could Ban Suspensions for 'Willful Defiance'
(Photo Credit: Robert S. Lowden)