The Los Angeles Unified School District Board received an earful from dozens of parents, educators, and activists at a recent meeting. They’re demanding a moratorium on daily random weapon searches in middle and high schools, the Washington Post reports.
“On a daily basis we will be planting seeds that say you are dangerous, you are a potential threat to others and you cannot be trusted,” parent Keisha Mitchell told the board, according to the Post.
Furthermore, the searches are tantamount to racial profiling, others protested to the school board members. The Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is leading a petition drive against the policy. It has received nearly 600 signatures so far.
The board reminded them why the policy exists, and said they would review its controversial safety procedures.
Random weapons searches began in 1993 after a high school student, who brought a gun to school hidden in a backpack, accidentally shot and killed a classmate.
According to the Post, school district Superintendent Michelle King supports the policy, which she views as “non-invasive, respectful and necessary.”
“These screenings serve as a deterrent so that we may continue to focus on educating our students in a productive and safe learning environment,” King said in a statement.
The newspaper said the school district triggered this debate earlier this year when it insisted that charter schools enforce the policy. More than a dozen charter schools in the city declined to comply. That opposition to the policy gained support from the city’s largest teachers union, parents, and civil rights groups.
This debate is also raging on the East Coast, in the nation’s largest school district. According to the Los Angeles Times, almost 90,000 high school students in New York City get scanned each day for weapons. Opponents point out that nearly half of the city’s Black students get scanned, compared to just 14 percent of White students.