Untold Stories Behind One of America’s Best Urban School Districts is a report by the Children’s Defense Fund-California and Public Counsel.
• Black and special education students in LBUSD are disproportionately suspended from school, well beyond the rate of any other subgroup of students. Black students are also disproportionately pushed out of comprehensive schools to alternative settings. Black students are almost 14 times more likely to be suspended than their White peers. Latinos and Pacific Islanders are four times more likely to be suspended than White students. Special education students in LBUSD have also experienced a higher rate of suspension at 17 suspensions per 100 special education students, compared to 5.6 suspensions per 100 LBUSD students in 2014-15.
• The district’s discipline policies are not tailored toward the unique situation of Long Beach students and do not provide schools with guidance for implementing preventative school climate strategies, which results in the inconsistent treatment of students. Generally, the district’s policies are nearly identical to the sample policies 3 written by the California School Boards Association and contain little to no modifications based on the district’s local needs and characteristics. The absence of a comprehensive document detailing school discipline polices or setting out a clear vision of school climate results in a patchwork of policies, practices, and inconsistent student treatment.
• Over the past four years, LBUSD invested 200 times more on law enforcement— which has never been proven to improve the outcomes for high-need students— than on its prevention-focused school climate strategies that have been proven to support academic opportunities and outcomes for all students. The district has spent over $35 million on policing students between the 2011-12 and 2014-15 school years compared to only $117,112 during the same time period to support Safe and Civil, its primary school climate program. In the meantime, the number of counselors at LBUSD declined from 184 in 2008 to 107 counselors in 2014.
• Black and Latino students are disproportionately impacted by police involvement at school. Together, Black and Latino students account for 86 percent of LBUSD’s student-police contact, despite accounting for 69 percent of LBUSD’s enrollment.
1. Genuinely engage students, parents, and community members in a dialogue about a collective vision for racial justice, equity, and positive school climate in LBUSD.
2. Collect, publicly disseminate, and study disaggregated school discipline data by race and other high-need student demographics.
3. Create and adopt a district-wide, model code of conduct that provides every school with consistent guidelines and practices to proactively create positive learning environments.
4. Address racial disparities by investing in implicit bias training and by setting targeted goals to reduce exclusionary discipline for overrepresented student subgroups.
5. Spend Local Control Funding Formula supplemental and concentration funds on strategic school climate investments, including restorative justice and more support staff.
6. Foster transparency about police staffing and practices to help develop a holistic school safety approach that is based on prevention and a positive school climate.