Few high school sporting events in Southern California draw more fans on a yearly basis than the East L.A. Classic football game between Garfield and Roosevelt at East Los Angeles College. The game annually draws more than 15,000 fans, with security supplied by school police from the Los Angeles Unified School District and L.A. County Sheriff's Department.
Whether that game will be able to continue in the future at East L.A. College is in question after the Board of Education approved a 35% cut to its school police by a 4-3 vote Tuesday and also barred district schools from hiring LAPD, Sheriff deputies or private armed security for district events.
"Based on my current knowledge of the situation, it might be in jeopardy because there might be a contractual issue when we rent East L.A. College and may be required to hire L.A. County Sheriff" deputies, said Garfield football coach Lorenzo Hernandez.
According to LAUSD school police Chief Todd Chamberlain, the cut would result in an immediate reduction of 65 officers and would limit officer presence at high schools to school hours Monday through Friday. The $25-million cut is supposed to be reallocated to serve the needs of Black students.
Board member Monica Garcia, who represents the area where Garfield and Roosevelt reside, said, “L.A. Unified has to continue to be a leader in showing what can happen when we believe in self-determination, when we empower communities to help this organization transform itself."
Some school officials want to know who will be paying for security at night games involving bitter rivals. In the past, the district had a fund to pay for extra security, such as eight school police officers for Westchester-Fairfax basketball games.
"They're going to put the safety of students and fans in jeopardy," Fairfax athletic director Shane Cox said. "You need officers. They're the only ones who can maintain control. They cut it without thinking of the ramifications. What are schools supposed to do? Are we supposed to pay for it? Assuming everything was normal, how do we host these athletic events with thousands of people, some of whom are unruly. You need officers for general safety."
Assistant principal Neezer McNab of Taft said, "We can't have night games without police officers. We're going to have to have them. The question is who’s going to pay for them?"
Garcia and LAUSD have not responded to messages about the impact of school police cuts on sporting events.