August 14, 2020

District to rethink student safety after ending police contracts

Photo by Jacky Lam on Unsplash

West Contra Costa Unified is rethinking what it means to keep students safe after its school board voted in June to end contracts for campus police officers starting next school year. It’s a re-evaluation other California districts are making as well, following protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in May as well as students saying armed police officers make them feel less safe at school.

Instead of relying as much on police, the district’s administration, as well as principals, are working on updating each schools’ broader “safety plans,” said district spokesman Marcus Walton.

While the new plans are still taking shape, and few details have been released, Walton said the district would take a more holistic approach to student safety by relying less on law enforcement for non-serious incidents, and focusing more on students’ “socio-emotional health.” To do that, the district will continue implementing “restorative justice” practices — alternatives to traditional discipline that are aimed at holding students accountable to their peers — conflict de-escalation and other positive behavior practices as called for in a 2017 policy.

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