Community-based safety programs like safe passage to and from school, violence prevention, and restorative justice have proven success. But despite making commitments on paper and allocating annual funding, the district has failed to fully implement these programs, leaving millions of dollars on the table and leaving our schools without the support we need.

So on January 23, students, educators, families, and community groups rallied outside LAUSD headquarters and packed the board room to demand the district stop the delays and implement community-based safety programs as promised.

At the rally, History teacher Jon Paul Arciniega said his students at Roybal Learning Center regularly access the school’s well-being center to talk with a counselor or PSW and get needed resources to support their physical health. “I have students all the time telling me they want to use the well-being center, they want to be in touch with their PSWs,” Arciniega said. “If you give kids these resources, they’re going to use them. I’d like to see more funding for those things and less funding for the police.”

In 2020, the partnership of students, educators, families, and community groups forming the Police-Free LAUSD coalition successfully pushed the district to remove all permanently stationed cops from school campuses. Through this partnership, we also fought for and won funding for Community Schools and the Black Student Achievement Plan, but the district has failed to fully implement the meaningful supports for student safety and well-being.
The few community-based safety programs that have been implemented to some extent have shown positive success. High School senior and Students Deserve leader Lakell White says the safe passage program at Dorsey High School has made a big difference. The school partners with the local neighborhood to ensure students get to and from school safely on a daily basis.

“You have Black and brown people in the community that truly care about the students and want to see students do better, and they’re there to really support us,” Lakell said. “Getting that bright smile in the morning from someone that looks like you and can understand your story and understand where you’re coming from, it can just change a person’s whole day.”

But Lakell said the number of safe passage members has reduced by half this year. “I want the program to be shown at its capacity and at every LAUSD school so we can see the work that it’s really doing.”

“They’re waiting for us to give up,” UTLA President Cecily-Myart Cruz said to the crowd of students, educators, families, and community allies at Tuesday’s rally. “Don’t give up.”