Black Parallel School Board, Blacks Making A Difference, Brown Issues, Hmong Innovating Politics, Sacramento ACT and Self Awareness & Recovery issue the following Joint Statement:
SACRAMENTO BOARD OF EDUCATION EXTENDS CONTRACT WITHOUT SAFEGUARDS OR DATA COLLECTION
SACRAMENTO, CA -- On Thursday night, in a 4-3 vote, the Sacramento City Board of Education approved a $1,473,236 contract to pay for police officers on five of the district’s high schools and roving officers for its middle and elementary schools. At a time when the District is facing a $36 million budget deficit, risking state takeover and eroding trust among community members, the decision to extend this contract further plunges the District into greater fiscal uncertainty. Over the vocal outcries of students, parents, teachers, community organizations and the recommendation from the District’s own African American Achievement Taskforce—Board President Jessie Ryan, Board Members Darrel Woo, Christina Pritchett and Michael Minnick voted to extend a previously expired contract for police officers on campus until the end of the school year.
“During Superintendent Jorge Aguilar’s first year in his position, he has preached the importance of community engagement and championed educational equity. The Board’s decision to extend this contract undermines the legitimacy and authenticity of those commitments. There can be nothing more damning to educational equity then the on-going criminalization of students of color and divestment of resources from social and emotional student support services,” stated Cha Vang, Executive Director of Hmong Innovating Politics.
The original contract with the Sacramento Police Department (SPD) ended in June 2018 but officers continued to occupy schools in the District without Board approval. Working out of contract and without Board oversight, District staff presented an identical proposal in October 2018 to extend the SPD contract. That proposed contract was tabled when several board members, responding to grave concerns raised by students and community members, asked District staff to rework the contract to ensure greater transparency, include data collection, adopt best practices, identify training curriculum and gather more community input. Four months later, ignoring their own recommendations Board Members Ryan, Woo, Pritchett and Minnick approved the extension of the contract with none of those provisions included and actually increased the budget for police officers by an additional $75,000.
The contract extension will now move forward without any data collection and without any details about the training curriculum police officers go through in order to operate on schools. As Carl Pinkston, Board member of the Black Parallel School Board points out, “In October, the Board asked for feedback and recommendations from the community. We delivered with multiple alternatives to policing and provided recommendations to ensure greater accountability. None of them are reflected in this extension. The District’s own African American Achievement Taskforce specifically recommended that the Board not renew this contract. On the same night that the Board celebrated Black History Month, approving this contract was a slap in the face to communities that have dealt with over-policing for generations.”
Most powerful at last night’s Board meeting were the voices and stories of high school students from throughout the District. Every single student in attendance demanded the Board acknowledge their negative and traumatic experiences with police officers on campus and reject the contract in order to find alternatives to policing. As Stephanie López Hernández, high school student at Luther Burbank and member of Brown Issues states, “Nearly all the research about police on campus shows that it undermines safety and harms students, but the Board could have simply listened to the voices of Black and Brown students here in their own District. We live it every single day. Voting to extend this contract is a betrayal of the trust Board members have tried to build with our communities. They were more concerned with temporary inconveniencing school administrators than the lifetime of trauma and criminalization that’s triggered when there are cops on campus. We need more counselors, more teachers, more support; not more cops.“
After last night’s vote, the community coalition of Black Parallel School Board, Blacks Making a Difference, Brown Issues, Hmong Innovating Politics, Sacramento ACT, and Self Awareness & Recovery expects Superintendent Aguilar and the Board to bring in students, parents, and community for conversations to take action steps on transitioning schools and administrators away from the use of police officers on campus so that real, evidence-based, community led and data driven solutions can be implemented for the safety and wellness of all students in Sacramento City Unified.