Students leave Roosevelt High School on an ordinary day earlier this year. Photo by Andrew Roman

The Board of Education voted on Tuesday to end random metal detector searches at Los Angeles Unified School District secondary schools, a practice known as “wanding” that has been in place since 1993.

The “Successful School Climate: Safe, Respectful, and Learning for All!” resolution was sponsored by Board President Mónica García, Members Kelly Gonez and Jacki Goldberg and student Member Tyler Okeke. According to a press release from LAUSD, it calls for the identification of alternative means of ensuring school safety without the use of random individual searches.

The resolution requires that LAUSD superintendent Austin Beautner develop an alternative policy for school safety that would avoid an increased school police presence by July 2020. The resolution does not prohibit searches if there is reasonable suspicion that a school rule or law has been violated.

“Administrative random searches are incredibly invasive, dehumanizing and communicate to students that they are viewed not as promising minds but as criminals,” Okeke said during the meeting. “Los Angeles Unified must find alternatives to this practice that foster an inclusive, welcoming academic environment that values each student at every school.”

Board members George McKenna, Scott Schmerelson and Richard Vladovic voted against the resolution.

“My number one priority has always been to provide a safe and secure learning environment for every student in Los Angeles Unified,” Schmerelson said. “A fair, nondiscriminatory, and respectful wanding program provides increased safety for students and staff. It may not be the perfect tool, but until a reasonable and effective alternative is proposed, I sincerely believe that random wanding serves as a deterrent for students who may consider bringing a weapon to school.”

Dozens of student and community activists from the Students Not Suspects coalition attended the board meeting to speak up against the searches, arguing that they are harmful to school climate throughout the district. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, Public Counsel, Students Deserve, Youth Justice Coalition, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, and United Teachers Los Angeles are all part of the coalition.

“It is our duty to represent the voices of our students,” García said. “I am proud to stand with our youth who are calling on us to be braver and bolder when it comes to ensuring that our students are feeling safe and well in schools.”

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Alex Medina

Alex Medina is a graduate of Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School and 2018 alumnus of the Boyle Heights Beat. He is a recent graduate of Hamilton College in Central New York where he majored in Hispanic...

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