LA School Board unanimously passes teen dating violence resolution

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imageThe LA Unified School District Board unanimously passed a resolution to prevent dating violence today.

Just two weeks after the murder of a young girl by her boyfriend, the school board’s vote took on added poignancy.

Board Member Steve Zimmer, who sponsored the resolution, isn’t sure the resolution would have prevented Cindi Santana’s death. She was killed September 30 at South East High School. Her ex-boyfriend, Abraham Lopez, is in custody for allegedly stabbing her.

“Policy is not consolation, and policy can’t reverse the tragedy,” Zimmer said at a press conference before the school board meeting. “But what we’re trying to do today is make sure that anywhere in this district, when someone comes forward, or a family comes over, that school will have the resources to make sure this never happens again.”

The resolution will expand the programs of Peace Over Violence, a non-profit organization that run violence prevention programs in a number of schools. Each school will have a violence prevention coordinator, and students will learn about health relationships.

“Trauma interferes with learning,” Patti Giggans, the group’s executive director, says. “Children do not invent violence they learn it from living in the adult that we have created for them. If violence is learned, it can be unlearned.”

The board passed the resolution unanimously on consent, but the funding has yet to be secured. The program will cost $2 million dollars a year, Zimmer says.

“We’re funding teacher evaluation reform; we’re funding contract reform; and we’re funding all types of reform. You can’t reform anything if kids aren’t safe,” Zimmer says. “This is not words on a piece of paper, this is about changing things on the ground at school.”

Peace Over Violence will continue to work with Zimmer’s office to resolve funding.

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