PhD Candidate Publishes Research on Policing LAUSD Students

Million Dollar Hoods study finds Black students disproportionately impacted by interactions with Los Angeles school police.

Terry Allen, a PhD candidate in the UCLA Department of Education, says that Black students are disproportionately bearing the brunt of police enforcement practices across LAUSD schools.

“That means that learning opportunities for black youth are also being impacted,” he says. “Positive conditions for learning and safety do not exist when black students are disproportionately subjected to law enforcement interactions.”

New research published by Million Dollar Hoods, a project under the leadership of Professor Kelly Lytle-Hernandez at the Ralph. J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, has found that Black youth in the Los Angeles Unified School District are far more likely to be arrested, cited, or referred to diversion programs by the Los Angeles School Police Department than their White peers. While Black youth make up less than 9 percent of the total student population, they comprise 25 percent of total arrests, citations and referrals by the department.

Across America, Black youth are about two and one-half times as likely to be arrested as their White peers.[1]But in the Los Angeles Unified School District, ten times as many Black youth as Whites were arrested by school police between 2014 and 2017. During those years, Los Angeles School Police arrested 95 White students, and 970 Black students.

The Million Dollar Hoods study, “Policing Our Students: An Analysis of L.A. School Police Department Data (2014 – 2017), reports that the Los Angeles School Police Department made 3,389 arrests while issuing 2,724 citations and 1,282 diversions between 2014 and 2017. Boys of color made up more than three-quarters (76%) of all involvement with the Los Angeles School Police. Elementary and middle-school age youth age youth accounted for one in four arrests.

“The scope and scale of enforcement action across the school district is troubling, says Allen. “While arrests and citation are on the decline and diversions are rising, the level of enforcement action is at odds with the purpose of providing all students with the opportunity to learn.”

The researchers also underscore that contact with law enforcement can also impair mental health and well-being, induce trauma, erode trust in the criminal justice system, and negatively impact educational achievement, advancement, and subsequent attainment.

To read more about “Policing Our Students: An Analysis of L.A. School Police Department Data (2014 – 2017) and for the full report, visit the Sudikoff Institute Public Forum.