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Board Votes to End Contracts with Police Agencies, Shift Funds to Support African American Students

The West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education on Wednesday night unanimously voted to end contract services with local police agencies and transfer the money to efforts supporting African American students.

The votes were taken as part of a resolution that condemns police brutality and action to pass the District’s $377 million budget.

“This resolution affirms our utter condemnation of the continued violence against African American people in this country at the hands of law enforcement,” Board President Stephanie Hernandez-Jarvis said. “These votes do more than register our protest symbolically; they take action to move this District away from using the punitive presence of law enforcement to a more supportive and restorative model that protects students from the threat of police surveillance and violence in our schools.”

The Board’s actions come in the aftermath of nationwide protests against the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Arbery, 25, was jogging when he was was shot and killed by two white men (one a former law enforcement official) in Glynn County, Georgia; Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was asleep when she was shot and killed by police inside her home after a “no-knock” raid; and Floyd, a 46-year-old father of two, was killed by a police officer who pushed a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes, while Floyd lay handcuffed on the ground.

About $1.5 million that had been budgeted for police services in the 2020-21 school year was directed toward services to support African American student achievement. An earlier resolution directed the District allocate $7 million specifically for services for African American students.

“We have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that African American students, who have been traditionally underserved and marginalized, receive the full focus and attention of this Board and this District as we take solid steps to make progress toward closing the opportunity gap affecting African American students,” Hernandez-Jarvis said.

The resolution calls for the cities of Hercules, Pinole, San Pablo, Richmond and El Cerrito and Contra Costa County to end militarized policing practices; support strengthening efforts to eliminate instances of excessive use of force, and conduct stringent oversight and independent investigations into instances of police brutality, racial profiling, and excessive use of force, and hold individual law enforcement officers and police departments accountable.

It also directs the superintendent to develop antiracist policies and procedures and provide training for teachers, staff, and administrators to understand race/racism and its impact on teaching, learning, and knowledge transmission, recognize differences between antiracism and multiculturalism in pedagogy, curriculum, and educational advocacy, and understand how place (geography) and institutional culture are uniquely important to the implementation of such programs.