Foster Care Race & Justice Zero Tolerance and School Discipline

Compromise Bill to Limit Willful Defiance, Two Preschoolers Suspended 8 Times, LASD Missed the Mark on Metro Policing Objectives, and Former Foster Kids Struggle to Get Health Care


Governor Jerry Brown and advocates have come to an agreement on a bill to eliminate “willful defiance” as grounds for expelling a student. A version of the bill with broader limits on “willful defiance”—a vague term for most anything that can pass as disruptive behavior—passed through legislature last year, but was vetoed by Brown.

This bill would also prohibit school staff from suspending young children (up to third grade) for willful defiance. The compromise bill will sunset at the end of 2018, so that Brown and legislators can reassess.

In the 2012-2013 school year, “willful defiance” accounted for 43% of suspensions and 5% of expulsions. And while black children make up 9% of the student body, they amassed 16% of “willful defiance” suspensions. Back in May 2013, the LAUSD banned suspensions for “willful defiance.” (Read about it here.)

Ed Source’s Susan Frey has more on the issue. Here’s a clip:

Under the new agreement, no student can be expelled for being willfully defiant or disruptive of school activities. That subjective category has come under fire because it has been disproportionately used statewide to discipline African-American students and, in some districts, Latino students. In addition, under the amended bill, administrators would no longer be able to suspend K-3 students and send them home for being willfully defiant.

The law will sunset on Dec. 31, 2018, when legislators will have a chance to revisit the issue.

“Advocates for change would very much like to go further,” Dickinson said, “but we realize the governor’s willingness to agree to take steps at all is a significant move.”

A bill that put more limits on the use of willful defiance passed the Assembly and Senate last year. But that bill was vetoed by the governor, who said he thought disciplinary decisions should be made by local administrators. Jim Evans, a spokesman for the governor, said Brown declined to comment because the legislation is pending.


Laura Faer of Public Counsel, a public interest law firm based in Los Angeles, said her group sees this agreement as a first step forward. She said she appreciates that “the governor is willing to walk with us on this” and sees the sunset clause as an invitation for more dialogue that will eventually lead to the elimination of willful defiance as a reason to suspend or expel.

“Students, parents, teachers and community members around the state are working passionately for this change,” Faer said. “Nobody’s giving up, nobody’s going away.”

The revised bill will go before the state Senate in August.


Author, motivational speaker, and cofounder of a nonprofit for those affected by fatherlessness, Tunette Powell, has an excellent story for the Washington Post about how her two generally well-behaved preschoolers have collected eight(!) suspensions between them.

Here’s how it opens:

I received a call from my sons’ school in March telling me that my oldest needed to be picked up early. He had been given a one-day suspension because he had thrown a chair. He did not hit anyone, but he could have, the school officials told me.

JJ was 4 at the time.

I agreed his behavior was inappropriate, but I was shocked that it resulted in a suspension.

For weeks, it seemed as if JJ was on the chopping block. He was suspended two more times, once for throwing another chair and then for spitting on a student who was bothering him at breakfast. Again, these are behaviors I found inappropriate, but I did not agree with suspension.

Still, I kept quiet. I knew my history. I was the bad preschooler.

I was expelled from preschool and went on to serve more suspensions than I can remember. But I do remember my teachers’ disparaging words. I remember being told I was bad and believing it. I remember just how long it took me to believe anything else about myself.

And even still, when my children were born, I promised myself that I would not let my negative school experiences affect them. I believed my experience was isolated. I searched for excuses. Maybe I was just a bad kid. Maybe it had something to do with my father’s incarceration, which forced my mother to raise me and my brothers alone.

So I punished JJ at home and ignored my concerns. Then, two months later, I was called to pick up my 3-year-old son, Joah. Joah had hit a staff member on the arm. After that incident, they deemed him a “danger to the staff.” Joah was suspended a total of five times. In 2014, my children have received eight suspensions.

Just like before, I tried to find excuses. I looked at myself. What was I doing wrong? My children are living a comfortable life. My husband is an amazing father to JJ and Joah. At home, they have given us very few problems; the same goes for time with babysitters.

I blamed myself, my past. And I would have continued to blame myself had I not taken the boys to a birthday party for one of JJ’s classmates. At the party, the mothers congregated to talk about everyday parenting things, including preschool. As we talked, I admitted that JJ had been suspended three times. All of the mothers were shocked at the news.

“JJ?” one mother asked.

“My son threw something at a kid on purpose and the kid had to be rushed to the hospital,” another parent said. “All I got was a phone call.”

One after another, white mothers confessed the trouble their children had gotten into. Some of the behavior was similar to JJ’s; some was much worse.

Most startling: None of their children had been suspended.

Read on.


As Metro Transportation Authority officials are considering a new three year security contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept., a report on the previous MTA-LASD contract shows that the LASD fell short of Metro policing goals. For instance, while the department was supposed to reduce crime on the transit system by 8% each year of the contract, crime rose by 28% in 2012, and another 8.5% in 2013. From 2010 to 2013, aggravated assault and robberies jumped 75% and 43%, respectively.

The LA Times’ Laura Nelson has more on the report. Here’s a clip:

The report, written by an outside firm and commissioned by Metro officials, found other management and safety problems over the last five years of contracted Sheriff’s Department service that had cost the transit agency more than $365 million. The criticisms come as officials weigh awarding a three-year security contract expected to cost about $400 million.

“We can have more effective law enforcement than we have right now,” Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Chairman Eric Garcetti said. The audit “raises a lot of fair questions,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department was tasked with reducing crime on the Metro system by 8% a year, but total reported assaults, robberies and other crimes increased 28% in 2012 and 8.5% in 2013, according to audit data. Over a four-year study period, aggravated assaults climbed 75% to 280 in 2013, while robberies increased 43% to 407, according to FBI statistics included in the study.

Violent crime statistics reported to the FBI were as much as 22% higher than figures the Sheriff’s Department reported to Metro, according to the audit. The difference, the audit said, is that federal statistics require that multiple victims of assault and theft be reported as separate crimes, while Metro does not. The figures reported to Metro and the FBI also do not include crimes handled by other local police agencies.


Former California foster kids are allowed to stay on Medi-Cal until they turn 26, but many young kids aging out of the system are finding themselves unable to sign up for healthcare through Covered California. Child welfare advocates say the Covered California website is unequipped to enroll former foster youth, and employees are not aware of the law allowing these young adults to retain health insurance past age 18.

KQED’s April Dembosky has the story. Here are some clips:

For most young people, The Affordable Care Act allows them to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26. But when California foster youth age out of the system between ages 18 and 21, they often have no one. So federal lawmakers added a special provision to the health law that allows these young adults to stay on Medicaid — called Medi-Cal in California — until age 26, regardless of their income.

“Former foster youth are extremely vulnerable,” says Jessica Haspel a policy associate at the advocacy nonprofit Children Now. She says any obstacles or delays to enrollment are especially problematic for foster youth. Many have special health needs stemming from a history of abuse or neglect and may rely on important medication for things like diabetes or anxiety. Studies show nearly one in three former foster youth exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder — which is itself about twice the rate of American war veterans.


She says the Covered California website isn’t programmed properly to identify former foster youth. And call center employees aren’t educated about the new provision. As a result, some youth are being told they don’t qualify when they do, or they are put in a queue when they should be fast-tracked into coverage.


  • Note MTA: Before you sign another contract with LASD, take the Metrolink train from Union Station to Palmdale and see what you are paying for. I suggest you hire LAPD for ALL your law enforcement services.

  • For those that have CARPED/worked at TSB this report is no surprise. Talk about a dysfunctional mess. The contract was merely a ATM for those in charge while the metro system itself was left to languish. Lack of proper staffing, goals, direction and mismanagement at it’s finest. Nobody seems to know what’s going on over there.

  • It takes more than just visibility to deter crime. Detectives from specialized units were assigned to CARP there, some of them being the entire specialized team at the same time. They were never utilized correctly, and could of conducted operations in order to make the rail line safer. But the MTA wanted uniformed presence instead. I blame a big part of the problem on MTA.

    It kind of falls in the same way of thinking where some contract cities would rather have six single person radio cars driving around doing nothing instead of having three, two person radio cars doing great police work.

  • There are some fine men and woman working TSB. I have met and supervised them. There are also some POS that have no business being cops. We all know them. They come to work, write a few tickets and go home. They came to TSB/Metrolink because they could not function in a patrol environment. Meanwhile, the public has to ride trains where armed gang members have no fear of being stopped/arrested by deputies assigned to protect them. A sad state of affairs. Like I stated previously: MTA would get far more for their money contracting with LAPD.

  • Let us not forget the idiot Captain at TSB, who made Commander even though TSB was in shambles, and was only removed and demoted when caught cheating at Baker to Vegas. Couple that with CARPING at TSB that was nothing but smoke and mirrors and you get more crime! But Chief Ro Anda and Commander Claus to the rescue….

  • Anyone with legitimate information on ALADS, While perusing on the Alads website, I see that Hayhurst is no longer listed on roster.

    I also see the diversity game that is being played with two new “APPOINTEE’S a female and Hispanic male……see right through that.

    No V.P., No secretary, No Executive Director. Dues were raised effective July 1st.
    Truly not trying to start shit, However myself and others need to know WTF is going on?
    Now is the time to be working on contract negotiations.
    This is Real Talk for Real Answers!

  • Is it just me, or why would anyone give anybody who works for this Sheriff’s Department a raise? Not that you’re all bad apples, but the cloud of corruption hanging over this operation doesn’t bode well for anyone. If you consider the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” — it sounds like folks have already paid way too much. What with the lawsuits from within and without, the cavalcade of clowns running the joint, the oversight that isn’t, and the general disarray/extortion/campaign crap/nepotism/pension spiking promotions and faux reform, you’ve got to be kidding. Real talk for real answers? Let’s start with some fiscal accountability. We’re still waiting for a forensic audit, Sheriff Scott.

  • Wow @6,&7………ALADS/LASD. Both are intertwined with similar dysfunction. Pay won’t change anything, it’s going to take the people (deputies) to change, then the raises will come.

  • @Dues,, I’ve been through a few of these fiscal crisis cycles over the years. Obama and the California State Legislatures have screwed up the economy recovery so bad, it will take us probably until 2016 and a Republican House/State and White House to get things back on track again. With that said, I’ve always known the BOS to do the right thing for contract negotiations when the money is there. They have a fiscal responsibility to the County to keep things in line with the tax based economy. Of course, add the huge debt welfare and illegals are costing us, it may be a while longer before we get a “good” contract, it is just how things are. Be glad you have a job and benefits, the taxpayers are footing the bill and they/we are worn out.

    @Citizen, your points are well taken. The gross mismanagement coupled with the fiscal smoke and mirrors that have been going on for years is just now being exposed to the citizens, but we inside watch it on a daily basis. “It’s not my money” is the management mindset that is still pervasive within LASD. As far as lawsuits, many more in the hopper than you can imagine. Some are simply the price of doing police work, others are all indicative of the “Gray Zone” mentality bestowed onto the Cigar Club and Coin Holders who were told, there are no rules for you, do as you wish. Just wait till those lawsuits make their way to the bank, the Taxpayer Bank.

  • Tax Paying Citizen, well said! And we are just scrapping the surface of all the compromised bidding and contracts between the Baca/Tanaka RICO team and all those entities that do business with the county. The $11 million missing from Aero? Still missing, whitewashed by a bs “audit” from Tanaka’s protégé at the Auditor Controllers office, the one and only Wendy Watanabe.

    The problem with the forensic audit that doesn’t seem to happen is because some of the strings are connected to the Board of Supervisors, and they can’t let any audit go public willy nilly and let people know that corruption did not begin or end with Baca/Tanaka…

  • Not another swipe at the those 2 losers in Monterey Park. (1) The 4th floor at Headquarters and
    (2) the Presidents Office on Cupania Circle. I thought that was totally discussed on 7/11 in this website.

    I’ll just add that if Hayhurst is gone, For the employees sake I hope that he does not continue to monitor the inside and outside of Alads offices, spying on the employees.

    Is that a sick Bastard or what?

  • @ 9. You stated that the Board of Supervisors ( known to you) to do the right thing when ” the money is there”………How many times have we heard that the money “is not there” only to be “FOUND” later. In the meantime and in between time, we are fed BS during negotiations. We were ” PUNKED” with the last 2-2-2. Do we blame the BOS for offering it…….or do we blame “Weak Ass” ALADS for accepting it. Something to think about for our next contract.

  • Read it and Weep, the GOP held the White House, Senate and House from 2000-2006, leading right up to and ushering in the Great Recession. The DEM had it from 2008-2010, and I don’t believe either party has a lock on good governance. They spend too much time trying to defeat and outmaneuver the other side to give a shit about taking care of running the ship. Until the winner takes all mentality is replaced with a semblance of integrity and yes, collaboration, compromise, and old-fashioned statesmanship, don’t hold your breath the GOP is some knight in shining armor that will come rescue the US economy. Remember the dismantling of the US manufacturing base was all in the name of pursuing “economic freedom,” something that benefitted the few at the expense of the many…

  • Cowboy: Just remember not to “punk” the citizens of the community you are sworn to protect, if negotiations don’t go as planned. Calling in sick is one thing, parking your car after briefing and not providing a visible deterrent is another. I am hopeful money is not the driving force in your life or career.

  • @ Bandwagon. …..I got your point, of course it should always be the “Mission over the Money” however even if we were to work for free…….”Bullets and Band Aids” cost.
    If the money is not there, that’s one thing, if the money is there, it should be allocated appropriately.

  • I would welcome the opportunity to discuss/debate the work action of 2004,with anybody that participated. I have discussed my feelings on the subject many times. Perhaps other opinions need to be heard.

  • Just curious, what is the difference between Baca/Tanaka failing in their responsibilities and oaths, and all the gunslingers who parked their cars and allowed people to be needlessly victimized by criminals. Just saying?

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