SAN FRANCISCO—Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of San Francisco’s City Hall on Saturday, June 20 to demand change for the city’s public school system. Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth is the organization that organized the protest. They wanted to use “Juneteenth” as a platform to demand change, specifically to demand that money being used for the police force be redirected to schools for children of color. This change comes after the San Francisco Unified School District announced that they would take a heavy hit to their budget this fall, as they will begin to reopen after months of being closed. The group also demands that they want more counselors in schools, and less police presence on their campuses.
There is a current Memorandum of Understanding agreement between the school district and SFPD, where officers are allowed on campus for issues such as drugs or violence, and for notifying parents or conducting interviews and investigations of students. It includes an agreement for schools to work with a resource officer from the police department, and the SFUSD pays around $45,000 of the liaison’s salary. In recent years, this relationship has caused some tension between officers and the school district, with some parents claiming that the police have violated or abused the program. The protest at City Hall yesterday demanded that this program be defunded altogether.
Groups such as Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth feel that more money should be put into restorative practices, de-escalating conflicts, and building an emotionally supportive environment for students.
After weeks of public outcry over the SFPD’s involvement in the public school system, which was ignited in the wake of George Floyd protests, San Francisco Public School board members have begun to debate dropping financial support for resource officers program. Commissioners will vote on the resolution at a board meeting on June 23, and it will need four votes in order to pass.