New LA Partnership to Leave Zero Tolerance Behind, African American Activist Says There’s More to Alesia Thomas Story…and MoreSeptember 5th, 2012 by Taylor Walker
LA OFFICIALS TEAM UP TO REFORM SCHOOL DISCIPLINE POLICY
LAPD, LAUSD, LA County Probation, and city officials are finally coming together to change the LA school system’s broken discipline practices. It is heartening to see concrete changes to the student ticketing policy, but correcting and transforming the larger and longstanding zero tolerance policies for school discipline will be something that takes time and is a process we will continue to closely monitor.
LA Times’ Teresa Watanabe has the story. Here’s a clip:
A new approach is also in the works at the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Officials there are launching alternative programs to keep students out of the court system and provide them instead with counseling, tutoring and other community services.
The move away from punitive law enforcement actions and toward support services reflects a growing awareness, grounded in research, that treating minor offenses with police actions did not necessarily make campuses safer or students more accountable. Instead, officials and activists say, it often alienated struggling students from school, pushing some to drop out and get in more serious trouble with the law.
The shift is being directed by new city and county leaders who community groups say are far more responsive to the groups’ long-running complaints. L.A. Unified Schools Supt. John Deasy, school Police Chief Steven Zipperman and L.A. County Chief Probation Officer Jerry E. Powers — who all took office last year — have embraced the changes for low-level student offenses.
“There’s a very big pendulum shift,” said Robert Sainz, assistant general manager of L.A.’s Community Development Department, which is working with L.A. Unified. “This is the first time the city and school district are working together specifically to bring students back to school.”
WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT, a hearing exploring alternative school discipline policies will be held on Sept. 10th in the LA Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium at 3:00p.m. Speakers and presenters that will highlight school discipline data and explore alternatives to the current California policies that aren’t working include: Russlynn H. Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, and delegates from the Youth Justice Coalition, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Public Counsel, and lots more. The event is sponsored by CA Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, CA Attorney General Kamala Harris, and The California Endowment. (It looks like it’s going to be really dynamic. For more information, contact Melanie Keh at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON SAYS LAPD DIDN’T GIVE THE WHOLE ALESIA THOMAS STORY
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, LA African American activist and author, says there is more to the Alesia Thomas story than what the LAPD has presented. (For those who are unaware, Alesia Thomas died in custody after a female officer allegedly stomped on her genital area. Thomas had previously attempted to surrender her children at a police station, and was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment.)
LA Weekly’s Dennis Romero has the story. Here’s a clip:
After meeting with Thomas’ mother and grandmother yesterday he said the cops’ version wasn’t the whole story.
His organization, Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, states:
… Family members vehemently dispute the depiction of Alesia as a drug addicted, unfit mother. They revealed many new facts about Alesia’s background, education, work experience, and her relations with her children.
To be fair, we don’t ever recall the police calling Thomas a drug addict. And her own mother did tell CBS Los Angeles / KCAL that she was prone to depression.
However, Hutchinson is one of L.A.’s more credible leaders, and his alliance with the family can’t be good for the LAPD.
ANTI-MEXICAN MESSAGES LEFT ON CARS IN LONG BEACH
Anti-Mexican notes were placed on Long Beach cars on Labor Day saying things like, “Go back to Baja, Wetbacks,” and, “The Mexicans invaded this beach.” The Long Beach police have shrugged off the notes as a free speech issue. We’re not in favor of the cops going around arresting anyone, as it gets into slippery 1st Amendment territory, but it might be prudent to investigate as a potential precursor to escalation.
The OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano has the story. Here’s a clip:
Long Beach is a great town, a town that likes to pride itself on its diversity, unlike us Neanderthals over in Orange County. Nevertheless, it’s a place that boils with racial tension from time to time, as the city has turned from Iowa-on-the-Beach to one of the most diverse towns in the country.
But such incidents usually happen in the working-class areas, definitely not in tony Belmont Shore, where Labor Day found some anonymous pendejo leaving nasty anti-Mexican notes on cars asking “wet backs” to “go back to Baja.”
(Definitely click over to the OC Weekly story, as they have photos of the notes left on cars of beach-goers.)