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SCUSD board voted unanimously to approve the new budget without an allocation for the SRO contract

Updated: Jan 27

On June 25, Sacramento Unified School (SCUSD) Board met to adopt a budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. A coalition including Sacramento ACT (SacACT), Black Parallel School Board, Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP), Blacks Making a Difference (BMAD), Brown Issues, Village Advocates, Public Advocates and more recently Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA), had been calling on the SCUSD board to end its contract with the Sacramento Police Department to supply Student Resource Officers (SROs) to the district and reinvest that funding into mental health and student support services. The current contract is roughly $560,000.

According to Teresa Flores, SJPC contributor and SacACT member who attended the meeting, research shows that students in schools with SROs are more likely to end up in juvenile hall and in the justice system. Here in SCUSD, a public records act request by Black Parallel School Board showed that Black students are 15% of the student population but make up 32% of the SRO arrests. Historically, SRO contracts grew around the time of the war on drugs and concentrated in lower income districts with higher populations of Black, Indigenous and people of color.

She reports that these groups have appeared before the board and met with board members to share testimonies, data, and best practices urging them to remove SROs. The strongest opposition to this change has largely come from white parents and some teachers who have said that having the SROs make the schools safer and cite concerns about the potential for mass shootings as a reason to maintain their presence within the District. Board members Mai Vang and Leticia García have actively advocated ending the contract and reinvesting the funds into student support services. Board member Christian Pritchett has been the strongest proponent of keeping the contract. Despite his advocacy, SCUSD Board unanimously approved a new budget on June 25 that did not include an allocation for the SRO contract.

This was a big win for social justice advocates and was the culmination of years of sustained effort to decrease the presence of police on campus. Two years ago, the coalition pressed the Board to reduce the budget by about a third from $1.5 million to its current level. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the pressure to divest from policing helped to push this issue over the hump. However, Ms. Flores would like people to remember "that the end of the contract won’t reverse or fully address systemic racism in the District. We urge community members to get involved in the upcoming task force that will be formed to develop an alternative safety plan and develop recommendations for anti-racist policies."


Why is this a social justice issue in Sacramento?

This issue is important because research shows that students in schools with SROs are more likely to end up in juvenile hall and in the justice system. Here in SCUSD, a PRA by Black Parallel School Board showed that Black students are 15% of the student population but make up 32% of the SRO arrests. Historically, SRO contracts grew around the time of the war on drugs and concentrated in lower income districts with higher populations of BIPOC.


What else can I do?

We know that the end of the contract won’t reverse or fully address systemic racism in the district. Community members can get involved in the upcoming task force that will be formed to develop an alternative safety plan and develop recommendations for anti-racist policies.


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