LA School Board Votes to End Random Searches of Students

Los Angeles School Tries To Fight Campus Violence

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A resolution to end random searches of students using hand-held metal detectors was approved tonight by the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.

The “Successful School Climate: Safe, Respectful, and Learning for All!” resolution calls for the district to identify alternative means of ensuring school safety without the uses of individual searches, which board members said disrupt learning time and dehumanize students.

The resolution will halt the random searches by July 1, 2020. It does not prohibit searches for which there is reasonable suspicion a school rule or law has been violated, but prevents the district from implementing other random searches or increasing law enforcement on school campuses, according to Joshua Busch of Public Counsel, which bills itself as the nation's largest pro bono law firm.

With passage of the resolution, Superintendent Austin Beutner is expected to develop an alternative plan for school safety that eliminates the use of random searches by July 2020.

“It is our duty to represent the voices of our students and I am proud to stand with our youth who are calling on us to be braver and bolder when it comes to ensuring that our students are feeling safe and well in schools,” board President Monica Garcia said.

Board members George J. McKenna III and Scott M. Schmerelson voted against the resolution.

“We have not done an extensive enough analysis of the pilot program to come to the conclusion that it is not effective,” McKenna said. “I would like to see the pilot program fully implemented and evaluated before making a firm decision on suspending the random search practice without offering a viable alternative.”

Schmerelson said “a fair, nondiscriminatory, and respectful wanding program provides increased safety for students and staff. It may not be the perfect tool, but until a reasonable and effective alternative is proposed, I sincerely believe that random wanding serves as a deterrent for students who may consider bringing a weapon to school.”

Passage of the resolution was a victory for the Students Not Suspects coalition which maintained the searches unfairly targeted and criminalized students. The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, Public Counsel, Students Deserve, Youth Justice Coalition, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and United Teachers Los Angeles.

“We are pleased that this ineffective and discriminatory policy will be eliminated,” said Irene Rivera, an organizer with the ACLU of Southern California. “We will begin working together immediately to build a vision of holistic school safety that respects students' civil rights and civil liberties.”

Photo: Getty Images

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