San Diego Unified School District

State Reviews Role of Police on Campuses; Petition Calls for Defunding SDUSDPD

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The California Department of Education is studying the impacts of the presence of law enforcement on campuses, hoping their findings will help guide future policy change.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said that while his office was working to re-imagine the role of police officers at the state's 10,000 public schools, some would still need officers to protect students' safety.

"As a former school board member, I spent four years working very closely with school resource officers,” Thurmond said. “But I’ve already seen data that shows when there’s police on campus, this results in more suspensions and arrests, particularly for African American students and other students of color.”

He detailed the research plan during a virtual conference Wednesday and stated that can be viewed via Zoom and Facebook.

Thurmond said schools that still need a police presence would get officers who choose to be there and who have been trained on implicit bias. He said officers won't be assigned to campuses.

He said his office has convened a task force that includes legislators, researchers, law enforcement officials and advocacy groups that will look at how to address security issues at public schools.

He said that while there is "not enough" data on school policing, he welcomes the public to send any data they may have on the matter to

Meanwhile, there’s a local effort to defund the San Diego Unified School District Police Department that appears to be gaining momentum.

Recent San Diego High School graduate Endiya Griffin and her group, Defund San Diego School Police, are circulating an online petition aimed at differing police funding to other resources.

Amid heightened concerns of police presence in schools, the State Superintendent will hold an online discussion and announce a study on the subject.

“We’re hoping that we can keep this conversation going and ensure the safety and equity of students in San Diego Unified School District,” Griffin said.

Civil rights data collected by the U.S. Department of Justice -- the most recent data for SDUSD was collected in 2015 -- indicates 66% of students involved in incidents referred to law enforcement were either Black or Hispanic.

“I’m just not super surprised about the statistics, but they are super unfortunate and reflect violence being perpetrated against these students,” Griffin claimed.

Griffin’s group wants SDUSDPD disbanded, and thinks its budget would be better spent hiring mental health practitioners, and counselors with a specific mission.

“Ways we can support out students before it ever comes to having to call police,” she said.

More than 1,600 people signed the petition to defund the district’s police department as of Tuesday night. It was posted just last Thursday.

“Defund San Diego School Police is planning a demonstration July 2 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. The location has yet to be disclosed.

NBC 7 reached out to the SDUSD board for comment and did not hear back.

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