In a win for anti-police violence activists in Oakland, the Oakland School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to disband the OUSD Police Dept., committing to eliminate the department that has 20 sworn officers and 120 school resource officers.
The 7-0 vote followed a two-hour debate and several weeks of a campaign to cut the department led by the Black Organizing Project (BOP), a West Oakland-based group that has been organizing against police presence in Oakland schools since 2011.
The school board passed the George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Department, or the George Floyd Resolution for short, which calls for the board to disband OUSD police and reallocate the resources used on police to student support personnel like social workers, psychologists and restorative justice practitioners.
It also requires the district superintendent to launch a community-driven process to develop an alternative safety plan for the district that includes parents, students, teachers, BOP and other community partners.
The process must be launched by July 17, 2020, with a final plan to be adopted no later than December 31 of this year. OUSD spent more than $9.3 million on the school district’s police department between 2013 and 2018, according to the resolution.
According to BOP, Oakland’s school board is the first in the nation to move to disband its own police department. In May, the Minneapolis school district voted to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department, which was providing school resources officers for the district.
“We are overwhelmed with emotion and filled with gratitude for this historic win,” BOP said in a written statement Wednesday. “We thank the Board for taking this monumental step, and the Black youth and parents, and community and administrative partners who fought with us to make this possible.”
According to the resolution, during the 2015–2016 school year, Black students made up 26% of OUSD students but 73% of arrests. Since 2016, there have been over 9,000 calls to police made on students. This kind of institutionalized policing in schools “has extremely significant consequences, foreclosing opportunities toward graduation, college, and employment for Oakland’s Black youth,” the resolution states.
“[…] The perpetuation of the school-to-prison pipeline is incompatible with our goal of creating safe, healthy, and equitable schools for all District students,” it continues.
The vote by the school board comes a day after the Oakland City Council voted to keep the budget for the Oakland Police Dept. largely intact, voting 5-1 to cut OPD’s budget by $2.5 million for the next fiscal year by delaying the start of a police academy.
Activists had been calling for a much more significant $25 million reduction in OPD’s budget and a reallocation of resources to the community.
Protests have occurred consistently in Oakland over the past several weeks as calls to defund the police and scale back police responsibilities have gained traction in the Bay Area.
Across the bay in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed announced earlier this month that San Francisco police officers would no longer respond to calls for service on non-criminal matters like those involving mental health, homelessness, school discipline and neighbor disputes.