Work within budgetary and legal realities

As frustrating as it’s been at times, we’ve had to acknowledge the budget constraints our school district faces. For example, LAUSD had initially liked a recommendation we made that they hire employees dedicated specifically to supporting the implementation of the new dating violence policy they had just enacted. But, those hires ended up becoming a conditional part of that policy—one that they would only implement when they had the funding to do so. They still don’t have that funding, but we’ve found ways in the meantime to still support the policy implementation. Doing so requires more of our staff time, but it’s a valuable investment because we are working with and building the capacity of District staff to carry this implementation work on in the future—with or without those extra conditional staff.

We also spent a lot of time tweaking programs and revising recommendations we had supplied LAUSD in order to comply with legality and liability concerns they had. What ultimately motivated their legal team to approve a more proactive dating violence policy was the strong case we made that it was not just in the best of interest of their students, but also their own liability. We educated them about how a proactive policy and strong preventative approach to dating violence would create a culture and a set of norms that would make future incidents—and all of the ramifications they have—much less likely to occur.

The key to navigating these kinds of realities is getting in the mindset of those legal and financial staff and being ready to address the concerns you learn to anticipate they will have. We’ve become very good at that and it’s made our recommendations more appealing and our advocacy work quicker and easier.