SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra addressed accusations of mistreatment to students in the Stockton Unified School District Tuesday.
The claims were investigated by the California Department of Justice and Becerra said the DOJ entered a settlement with the school district and the Stockton Police Department to “address system-wide violations of civil and constitutional rights of African American and Latino students and students with disabilities.”
“We found discrimination against students with disabilities. When students acted out due to their disabilities, they were at times referred to law enforcement. We found that law enforcement referrals had a disparate impact on African American and Latino students at Stockton Unified,” Becerra said.
The district and DOJ agreed on a five-year plan to create more effective policies to prevent discrimination and to provide better training to crisis intervention officers who help students with mental health needs.
He also said the investigation identified unconstitutional search and seizure practices which led to students being “criminalized for minor misconduct.”
The DOJ and the district’s five-year plan includes these terms:
- Clear policies and procedures with respect to how and when school administrators refer students to law enforcement;
- Creation of a formal diversion program to address minor school-based criminal offenses, aimed at minimizing arrest citations and bookings;
- Revision of policies and procedures relating to treatment of students with disabilities in order to prevent discrimination, including the hiring of a trained Disability Coordinator at the police department to ensure compliance with disability discrimination laws;
- Creation of a protocol for school site administrators to refer students who exhibit indicators of mental health needs instead of a referral to the police department, where appropriate;
- Training all officers on crisis intervention to handle calls that relate to students in mental health crisis or exhibiting behavior that may indicate mental health needs;
- Reforming use of force policies, procedures, and practices, including a comprehensive review process;
- Ensuring any searches or seizures conform with constitutional standards;
- Providing extensive training on the constitutional and civil rights of students, disability and special education laws, and elimination of bias;
- Tracking and analysis of all arrests and referrals to law enforcement from schools; and
- Creation of a community advisory committee.