Oakland school board abolishes police force with unanimous vote

Oakland's school board voted unanimously Wednesday evening to abolish the school district police force by January, adopting the "George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Department." 

Citing the disproportionate arrests of Black students by Oakland's school police, as well as the district's "obligation to promote the healthy development of each one of its students" and the many alternative ways to handle discipline inside schools, the board directed the superintendent to take steps required to eliminate the department. 

From the 2015-2016 school year through 2019-2020, Black students have accounted for 73 percent of arrests in city schools but just 26 percent of enrollment, according to the resolution. 

This "preemptive policing," according to the resolution, is undermining the economic and public health of Oakland's Black community and restricting access to graduation and opportunity. 

"This moment is a culmination of years of hard-fought advocacy, youth and family leadership and community work," the Black Organizing Project, which has pushed for years for Oakland Unified School District to eliminate its police, said in a statement. "We are overwhelmed with emotion and filled with gratitude for this historic win," the group said in its statement.

In the five years from 2013-2014 through 2018-2019, the district spent $9.3 million on its armed police force, according to the resolution; the figure does not include the more visible unarmed security officers who patrol school entrances and events. In the same period OUSD laid off 33 restorative justice coordinators but only three police officers, according to the resolution. 

The resolution mandates training for all OUSD staff in implicit bias, antiracism, and culturally responsive supports. And it directs the superintendent to tell the board by Aug. 20 how she will launch a community-driven effort to revise the district's safety plan.