Stockton Unified School District Offices

DOJ Ends Five-Year Monitoring Of Stockton Unified School District

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The California Department of Justice (DOJ) has concluded its five-year oversight of the Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) and its Department of Public Safety, announced California Attorney General Rob Bonta this week. This significant development marks the end of a period of stringent reforms and oversight initiated after findings of civil and constitutional rights violations within the district.

The DOJ's intervention began following a 2019 investigation which uncovered systemic violations against Black and Latino students, as well as students with disabilities, involving unconstitutional search and seizure practices by district police. The investigation, which started in November 2015, was prompted by concerns regarding the district's compliance with state and federal laws in the conduct of school police officers.

In 2017, the Attorney General's Office concluded that discrimination had indeed occurred within the district. Additionally, the investigation highlighted improper use of force, including the unwarranted use of handcuffs and restraints by district officers and staff. This was partly attributed to the lack of an effective force review and complaints process. Issues were also noted in the provision of adequate communication for students who are hard-of-hearing or deaf during law enforcement investigations.

A stipulated judgment reached between the DOJ and the school district mandated substantial reforms to address these issues, along with the establishment of ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance and progress. SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco reflected positively on the developments, stating, "We are proud of the work that has been completed surrounding the DOJ agreement and it has helped place the department at the forefront of progressive policing."

Chief Franco further committed to maintaining the reforms, emphasizing the importance of continuing to provide a safe and just learning environment for all students. "We will continue with our commitment to the work that has been completed and ensure that we provide our staff and students with a safe learning environment ensuring fair and equal justice," she said.

With the DOJ's monitoring officially concluded, the Stockton Unified School District looks to move forward, upholding the new standards set for civil rights and law enforcement interaction within its educational environments.

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