San Francisco

San Francisco School Board Votes to Cut Ties With SFPD

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UPDATE: The San Francisco school board late Tuesday night voted unanimously to cut ties with the San Francisco Police Department, a board member confirmed Wednesday morning.

Amid growing demands to defund police nationwide, the San Francisco Board of Education is trying to find a more effective way to define how police engage with students. Many commissioners believe moving away from the district’s current agreement is a good place to start. 

Tuesday’s vote was on a resolution much bigger than the current agreement between the district and police; it’s the board saying, we need to have a nuanced conversation with several city agencies, including the police department, to keep all our students safe. 

San Francisco Board of Education Commissioner Alison Collins is calling on the city to continue investing in the community in order to help educators focus on their jobs and move away from the current Memorandum of Understansing (MOU) with police. Collins said, “It hasn’t been effective in managing police and it also hasn’t been effective in really clearly defining what we should be doing better as a staff.”

This conversation is about more than just taking funds from police coverage and directing it toward social workers and counselors. After all, SFUSD only pays about $45,000 for half of a single police officer’s salary. That’s for Captain Yulanda Williams, the head of the School Resource Officer program. 

“We need the Police Commission and the Mayor’s office,” Collins said. “She’s (Breed) initiated a lot of great reforms to redirect funds into communities. And we know when communities have better resources, they don’t come in with trauma, they don’t come in in crisis, and then we have less conflict.” 

The most recent agreement between police and the district expired in January 2019, but it was in effect in August 2018 when Commissioner Collins says police violated it at the Balboa High School shooting. She says the board needs to look past basic agreements and focus on more community-based organizations. 

In a statement, the San Francisco Police Department said:

“We value our relationship with the SFUSD and would like to continue that relationship.  We firmly believe that our youth and school resource officer programs serve as positive ways to build lasting and healthy relationships between our officers and youth, specifically youth in underserved communities where building relationships and mutual trust is most needed.”

The passing of Tuesday’s resolution would mean that the district would then revise its security plan and assess staffing before presenting it to the board for approval.

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