Statement from L.A. Unified’s School Police Chief Steve Zipperman on the ACLU Report

The Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles School Police Department respect all research that offers accurate statistical information and non-biased content to identify best practices for attending a safe school. 

A new report, The Right to Remain A Student: How California School Policies Fail to Protect and Serve, reflects neither the incredible work performed daily by the men and women of the school police, both on- and off-campus, nor that of the dedicated L.A. Unified administrators, teachers and staff that work tirelessly to provide a safe and nurturing school climate to support our students for success. In fact, many best practices recommended in the American Civil Liberties Union’s report have become standard practice in the district.

For instance, L.A. Unified remains in the forefront nationally on progressive school discipline reform. Our form of innovative, non-arrest based intervention is consistent with national models, suggested by the U.S. Department of Education and President Obama’s 2015 Final Report on 21st century policing.

Furthermore, the collaborative work between various social justice advocacy groups and public counsel have placed the district and school police on a trajectory of a positive school climate transformation. L.A. Unified enjoys historic graduation rates, national-leading reductions in suspensions, expulsions, and reductions in campus-based crime and victimization, while community violence has soared.   

Some practices cited in the report are inaccurate. 

  • Contrary to the statement that four to eight police officers are assigned to a specific school, no campus has more than two police officers permanently assigned at any time. 
  • Contrary to the statement that school police officers routinely perform random administrative searches of students, all daily random administrative searches are performed by non-police personnel. Campus-based officers do not handle student disciplinary issues.  
  • Contrary to the stated 46 percent of all arrests by school police officers are African American students, the correct figure over the last two years is 25 percent and 26 percent respectively. While the school police has reduced student arrests by more than one-third over the last two years, it is also recognized that efforts to further reduce arrests of students of color is paramount. 
The school police will continue to provide its signature campus-based police officer program, contributing to overall safety, while remaining an integral part of leadership, student mentoring, role modeling, character development and success. We look forward to a continued partnership with the ACLU, and other organizations, as we strive to improve service and implement best practices enhancing campus safety and student outcomes.                               

                                                                                                             

Photo: Officer William Etue greeting school children. (Mayra Arriaga-photographer)