Attorney General Bonta: Stockton Unified School District’s Department of Public Safety Achieves Compliance with DOJ’s Five-Year Stipulated Judgment

Thursday, April 11, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Stockton Unified School District (District) and its Department of Public Safety (Department), concluding the five-year term of the stipulated judgment that addressed system-wide violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Black and Latino students and students with disabilities. The District has also committed to implementing a plan to further reduce disproportionalities in law enforcement referrals through school year 2026-2027, which will institutionalize the revised policies and practices and continue the progress made under the judgment.

“Over the past five years, the California Department of Justice and the Stockton Unified School District worked together to successfully implement the corrective actions set out in the stipulated judgment to protect the rights of students in schools,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Today we can celebrate that the agreement has helped the District take important steps to address concerns regarding interactions between police officers and students and to promote an equitable and positive learning environment. My office is committed to ensuring that the District’s plan to reduce disproportionalities is fully implemented and all students have an equal opportunity to achieve their fullest potential in schools.”

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our educators, staff, students, and Department of Public Safety, said Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent of Stockton Unified School District. “We reaffirm our commitment to continue the important changes and policies and remain steadfast in our mission to improve services and support for all students, ensuring that each child has the opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. We will continue to collaborate with stakeholders, implement evidence-based practices, and prioritize equity in everything we do.”

“The Department is proud of the work that was completed surrounding the DOJ Agreement which has not only made us a better Department but has placed us at the forefront of progressive policing,” said Chief Mayra Franco. “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.”  

“The consent decree was phase one. Now we must build on this momentum to cement the progress that has been made, and fix policies and practices that continue to hurt SUSD students and families,” said Jasmine Dellafosse, Director of Organizing and Community Engagement at End Poverty in CA. “The District should take the last few years as a lesson that accountability and transparency are non-negotiable when it come to our students’ well-being.”

“The Stockton Unified School District was placed under a consent decree because its school police were out of control, arresting and traumatizing kids for acting like kids. Students of color, especially Black students, and students with disabilities were hurt the most,” said Linnea Nelson, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “Even though the consent decree is over, those disparities still exist, and we will continue to monitor the District's progress to prevent resurgent discrimination.”

“The requisite collaboration that took place with community members and the Stockton Unified School District was an admirable beginning,” said Pastor Trena Turner, Victory In Praise Church. “Continued efforts of transparency and inclusion that outlasts the monitoring period, will be of paramount importance to further strengthen the district and ultimately improve the lived experience of our students.”

In 2019, a DOJ investigation concluded that the District’s policies and practices with respect to law enforcement referrals discriminated against Black and Latino students and students with disabilities. The investigation also found unconstitutional search and seizure practices. DOJ and the District entered into a stipulated judgment that required significant reforms and a five-year monitoring period. As part of the stipulated judgment, which concluded on February 19, 2024, the District: 

  • Established clear policies and procedures limiting when school administrators refer students to law enforcement.
  • Created a formal diversion program in lieu of citations and arrests to address minor school-based offenses.
  • Revised policies and procedures relating to treatment of students with disabilities in order to prevent discrimination, including the hiring of a trained Disability Coordinator.
  • Created clear processes for school site administrators to refer students with mental health needs to support services rather than a referral to law enforcement.
  • Instituted mandatory annual training of all officers and staff regarding civil and constitutional rights, disability and special education laws, and elimination of bias.
  • Reformed use of force policies, procedures, and practices, including implementing a comprehensive review process.
  • Updated search and seizure policies.
  • Used data to track and analyze all arrests and referrals to law enforcement from schools; and
  • Established the Community Advisory Group, which collaborated with the District to provide input and review updated policies.

Overall, the judgment led to markedly improved outcomes for students. Total arrests of students dropped significantly; in school year 2018-2019, there were 155 arrests, compared to nine arrests during school year 2022-2023. Calls for service to the Department decreased by 54% and unwarranted calls for service decreased by 52%. Under the disproportionality plan, the Community Advisory Group and Transformative Justice subcommittee, consisting of community organizations and other stakeholders, will continue to meet regularly to improve and reduce disparities in law enforcement referrals and receive and analyze disaggregated and anonymized District data on use of force, law enforcement contacts, citations, arrests, and calls for assistance.  

A copy of the stipulated judgment is available here. A copy of the complaint is available here.

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