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Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles said Monday they support a movement to eliminate the Los Angeles School Police Department, a force of about 400 that serves the L.A. Unified School District and accounts for about $70 million of the district’s $7.9 billion budget.

“We have to dismantle white supremacy. We must … defund the police and bring in the mental health services that our students need,” said Cecily Myart-Cruz, the incoming president of UTLA, which represents about 30,000 teachers, nurses, counselors and other staff in the school district.

The union’s board of directors voted last week, 35-2, to “start a process” that will ultimately lead to a larger union vote on whether or not to push the school board to “take money out of the school police department and put it directly into mental health support, counselors, academic counselors,” current UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “We can have 800 mental health supporters by using that money.”

The movement to defund school police has been a concern of education equity advocates for year. But the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd and calls to defund the Los Angeles Police Department and some others throughout the country nationwide reinvigorated their calls in the past days.

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