Campaigns and Reforms
Learn more about how to make local and state-level policy changes on school policing and exclusionary discipline.
Reducing Police and Increasing Student Supports
Communities across the country are beginning to reconsider how police are used in schools. Many earlier efforts centered on reforming school policing programs (e.g. MOUs, police training, etc.). However, those methods were ineffective. Today, most campaigns aim to reduce the involvement of police in school, redirect funds to student supports, and implement harm reduction measures.
Here are examples of successful campaigns and resources that can help you learn how to reduce police presence and advocate for increased supports for students in your school district. For more information on efforts to reform school policing, visit "Can School Policing be Reformed?"
Cutting School Police Budget by $25 million – Los Angeles, CA
The Los Angeles Unified School District cut $25 million from its school police, reducing the department’s budget by more than one-third following protests from Black students and activists who have called on the district to reform its police force. The cuts took effect in the 2020-21 school year, and the money that is cut from the department was reinvested to hire counselors, social workers and other staff at schools with the most Black students.
Eliminating a School Police Department – Oakland, CA
In October 2011, the Black Organizing Project (BOP) launched a campaign to address the impact of law enforcement on students in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). The campaign was prompted by the tragic killing of a 20-year old Black student by Oakland school police in January 2011. In 2012, OUSD adopted a formal complaint process for parents and students to use when they felt that school police had behaved inappropriately.
In 2019, BOP shifted focus from reforming police to reducing police presence and released the People’s Plan for Police-Free Schools. The plan called for the elimination of the Oakland School Police Department, the reorganization of school safety programs, and the reallocation of the school police budget to support an expansion of mental & behavioral health and special education staff. In 2020, OUSD passed the George Floyd resolution to eliminate the Oakland Schools police department.
Reducing Harmful Interventions
Ending “Random” Metal Detector Searches – Los Angeles, CA
The student-led "Students Not Suspects" campaign emerged after a school policy was adopted that required administrators to randomly pull students out of class and search their bags. The policy was largely ineffective at finding any weapons and was implemented in a discriminatory manner. The Students Not Suspects (SNS) campaign adopted multiple strategies, including hosting public education drives on the harms associated with random searches, engaging school district leaders on school safety issues, and advocating for measures that provide positive supports for students. In 2019, the policy was overturned.
Reducing Truancy Ticketing by Police – Los Angeles, CA
A campaign was launched to address the discriminatory ticketing of Black and Latinx students in Los Angeles who were late to school or truant. In 2012, city council amended LA Municipal Code 45.04 (“Daytime Curfew”), restricting the punitive ticketing of youth for tardiness and truancy.
Revising Arrest Protocols - Los Angeles, CA
A series of community campaigns resulted in adoption of new protocols for handling incidents that historically have resulted in citations and battery arrests by the police department of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Adopting a Safe and Supportive Schools Policy - San Francisco, CA
Advocates organized a successful campaign to convince the school board to adopt a Safe and Supportive Schools Policy. The policy requires all schools to pursue alternative interventions (such as restorative practices and school wide positive behavior intervention and supports), bans suspensions and expulsions solely on the basis of “disruption/willful defiance,” ends “undocumented suspensions,” and requires that special measures be taken in schools where the percentage of suspensions for African-American students is significantly greater than the percentage of African-American students enrolled.
Promoting Policy Reform
Reforming the State’s School Discipline Law - California
California AB 420 amended California Education Code section 48900(k) by eliminating the authority to suspend a student out of school, or in school, in kindergarten through third grade for “disruption” and “willful defiance.” Further, under AB 420 no student can be expelled for “disruption and “willful defiance.” Effective July 1, 2020, SB 419 will extend the ban on suspensions for disruption or willful defiance to cover all students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The ban on these suspensions for students in sixth through eighth grade sunsets on July 1, 2025.
Implementing District-Wide Reform – Syracuse, NY
After an investigation by the New York State Office of the Attorney General found wide scale problems in discipline practices, the district agreed to make major reforms starting in 2014. Reforms include changing discipline policies, appointing an independent monitor and an ombudsman, and adopting preventative strategies and due process safeguards. In 2018, the state ended the monitoring of the district, citing improvements.
Limiting the Suspension of Young Children - Texas
In January of 2016, the district adopted a policy of limiting removals of young children. Beginning with the 2016–2017 school year, no student shall be informally sent home. No student prior to third grade shall be suspended, placed into a disciplinary alternative setting, or expelled, except as required by law. Disciplinary actions that remove students from their school setting shall be used as a last resort for other elementary students below grade 3.
Adopting Positive Behavior Support - Los Angeles, CA
Community Asset Development Re-defining Education, a community-based, parent organization in South Los Angeles, led a campaign to get the Los Angeles Unified School District to adopt School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) as the discipline model for every one of its schools. In 2007, the district became the first in the nation to agree to adopt SWPBS.