Students Voice Concerns to Santa Barbara Unified School Board
Students and supporters protesting during the student-led march on Sunday
By edhat staff
Local students voice their support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) demands during Tuesday's Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) Board Meeting.
High school students gathered thousands of people around SBUSD offices on Sunday during a peaceful protest where a list of demands was presented to administrators.
The demands echoed those of the local Black Lives Matter movement geared more specifically towards the school system. They include: adopt a resolution declaring racism a public health emergency and allocate resources to implement restorative justice practices to deal with hate crimes, allocate funds to rehabilitation and mental health services for at-risk youth as an alternative to probation and/or juvenile hall, implement equitable hiring practices and recruit culturally competent teaches or color to teach ethnic studies courses, publicly condemn the school to prison pipeline, Ethnic Studies classes with culturally relevant curriculum, and defund any contracts with Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office and Santa Barbara Police Department.
San Marcos High School senior and Black Student Union president Talia Hamilton was invited to speak during the virtual board meeting.
"A lot of at-risk youth are black and brown minors and can be targeted by law enforcement, so instead of putting them in juvenile hall, use more rehabilitation and get them back on their feet instead of putting them in a place where it is hard to recover," said Hamilton.
Board member Wendy Sims-Moten expressed how proud she is of the students organizing and using their voices.
"We need our young voices to move us forward and to rise up because it takes a lot of bravery and a lot of courage to do that while you're also wondering if you're safe," said Sims-Moten. "I appreciate the peaceful protest yet it was screaming very loudly that enough is enough and we matter."
The SBUSD initially planned to implement a "Black Lives Matter at School Week" for the first week of February during Black History Month and received heavy pushback from students and supports. The Board decided not to move forward with the plan and will instead vote on the students' demands during the June 23 meeting.
During the meeting, the board also discussed the restructuring of classrooms to meet COVID-19 protocols and guidelines. Several options will be presented but it will most likely be organized by partial remote learning and partial in-classroom learning. This will also be voted on during the June 23 meeting.