Oakland Unified School District superintendent recommends eliminating district police force

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland Unified School District discussed changes to police services at Wednesday evening's school board meeting.

Oakland Unified Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel said in a statement Wednesday night that she is recommending the district move forward without a district police department.

This announcement came after the loud calls for change by protesters in Oakland and across the country after the police killing of George Floyd.

"I fully support the calls for racial equity and justice in our institutions, our workplaces, and our schools. I applaud the concrete actions taken at the local, state and national levels to right these historical wrongs," Johnson-Trammell said in statement earlier in the day. "It's long overdue."

Late Wednesday, the superintendent elaborated on her recommendation.

"Here at home in OUSD, on an issue many of you are closely watching, I am recommending that we move forward to create a district wide safety plan to ensure safe, healthy, and positive school environments for students and adults WITHOUT a school district police department," she said in a statement.

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OUSD is the only district in Alameda County with its own police department of 20 sworn officers and 120 school site officers serving 40,000 students and 5,000 employees, according to the district's website.

Last week the Minneapolis School District made headlines when the board voted to end its ties with the police department following the killing of George Floyd and the firing and charging of four Minneapolis police officers.

The Black Organizing Project, a community group working to create racial, social, and economic justice in Oakland, is pushing for OUSD to dismantle its police department as well.

"We are in the phase where we're demanding complete elimination," said Jessica Black, Organizing Director with the Black Organizing Project. "What that looks like is getting rid of armed law enforcement and adding more school counselors restorative justice services, trauma informed services for students, adding more social-emotional counselors for students to schools."

Black said this effort is 10 years in the making for BOP as the group has long advocated for police to have a more limited role in Oakland schools.

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BOP is pushing for money saved by disbanding the Oakland School Police Department to instead be invested in social services for students.

"Our children are criminalized locked up, ripped outside our homes, murdered lifelessly in the streets by this institution - this racist institution of policing. This is a great start to start right where our kids are and interrupt the school to prison pipeline physically" Black said.

Johnson-Trammell also added in the release, "Together, we can reimagine how to keep our schools safe, healthy and welcoming. Together, we can find a new way. A way that builds on OUSD's strong foundation of community schools, restorative justice, and social emotional learning."

BOP held a news conference at the La Escuelita Elementary School to vocalize their concerns ahead of tonight's board meeting.

OUSD's 5:30 p.m. board meeting can be watched online by streaming the meeting live on OUSD.org or via Zoom .
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