Organized by the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, the Center at Sierra Health Foundation and community partners, including the Central Valley Movement Building, the annual Equity on the Mall was held in Sacramento on March 6th.

The event culminating at the State Capital included presentations by elected representatives community leaders, music, dance, spoken word and legislative visits about pressing issues impacting communities in the San Joaquin Valley.

As part of the Equity on the Mall event, a policy statement was released that focuses on Senate Bill SB 419, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, would do the following:

  • End Willful Defiance from the Education CodeSB 419 will improve student outcomes and encourage schools to adopt alternatives to suspensions and expulsions by:
  • Eliminating defiance/disruption suspensions and expulsions for students in grades 4-8;
  • Eliminating defiance/disruption suspensions and expulsions for students in grades 9-12 until January 1, 2025; and
  • Encouraging the use of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support to help students gain critical social and emotional skills.

Download the Word Version of this statement, which includes footnotes to the sources.


  1. In 2017-18, foster youth, Black students, and students with disabilities were four, three, and two times more likely to be suspended than their peers, respectively.
  2. State data reveal that students with disabilities were less than 13% of California’s student enrollment in the 2017-18 school year, yet they comprised 31% of disruption/defiance suspensions.
  3. Black students were less than 6% of enrollment, but nearly 16% of disruption/defiance suspensions in 2017-18.
  4. Further, research suggests that disparities in discipline for students of color are due in partto both unconscious and intentional discriminatory practices, which is particularly true for highly subjective offenses like disruption/defiance.
  5. Several studies confirm that Black students receive harsher punishments for minor and more subjective violations than White students. Studies also confirm that there is no evidence that Black students misbehave at higher rates.

Educational Justice — No LCFF Funding for SROs

Fueled by increasingly punitive approaches to student behavior such as “zero tolerance policies,” the past 20 years have seen an expansion in the presence of law enforcement, including school resource officers (SROs), in schools.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of school resource officers increased 38 percent between 1997 and 2007.1 Some cities, like New York City, employ more officers in schools than many small cities’ entire police force.

The question of school safety is about healthy educational environment.

The presence of SROs and cops on campus undermines the responsibility and agency of students, school administrators and staff, and the communities they serve to build transformative and positive school cultures that teach respect for students and commitment to student’s academic success.

In 2015/16, Central Valley school districts are among the top 5% of districts with the highest rates of school related arrests. In 2015-16, 158 student arrests were made in Sacramento City Unified, 159 in Fresno Unified School District, and in Clovis Unified, 114.

Reports also show a rising trend in students in disability being arrested. Central Valley districts represent only 23% of all districts with 1000 or more students, but 33% of the top 30 highest suspending districts for students with disabilities. 

Furthermore, in 2015/16 the Central Valley had 1,079,038 students enrolled, plus 607 full time police officers and 737 full-time security officers. There are more police officers and security guards in Central Valley schools (1,345 combined) than counselors (1,315.)

We need legislation that end the use of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds for School Resource Officers in school districts

The presence of SROs and referrals to police as feeding into the school-to-prison pipeline, we contend that the solutions to system-wide discrimination and violations of student rights requires not just changes in programs but also systemic changes in the culture of schools.

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