West Contra Costa School District ends police services contracts for 2020-2021

The West Contra Costa Unified School District board on Wednesday unanimously approved a $377 million budget for the coming academic year that includes ending contract services with local police agencies.

About $1.5 million previously budgeted for 2020-21 police services was redirected to support African American student achievement, the district said. An earlier resolution allocated $7 million specifically for services for African American students.

"This resolution affirms our utter condemnation of the continued violence against African American people in this country at the hands of law enforcement," Board President Stephanie Hernandez-Jarvis said in a statement. "These votes do more than register our protest symbolically; they take action to move this District away from using the punitive presence of law enforcement to a more supportive and restorative model that protects students from the threat of police surveillance and violence in our schools."

The board's budget resolution also condemns police brutality in the aftermath of nationwide protests against the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the district said.

"The resolution calls for the cities of Hercules, Pinole, San Pablo, Richmond and El Cerrito and Contra Costa County to end militarized policing practices; support strengthening efforts to eliminate instances of excessive use of force, and conduct stringent oversight and independent investigations into instances of police brutality, racial profiling, and excessive use of force, and hold individual law enforcement officers and police departments accountable," the district said in an announcement.

"We have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that African American students, who have been traditionally underserved and marginalized, receive the full focus and attention of this Board and this District as we take solid steps to make progress toward closing the opportunity gap affecting African American students," Hernandez-Jarvis said.

The board directed Superintendent Matthew Duffy "to develop antiracist policies and procedures and provide training for teachers, staff, and administrators to understand race/racism and its impact on teaching, learning, and knowledge transmission, recognize differences between antiracism and multiculturalism in pedagogy, curriculum, and educational advocacy, and understand how place (geography) and institutional culture are uniquely important to the implementation of such programs."

The district earlier this year had voted to reduce the number of contracted school resource officers as it worked to balance its budget.