Expansion of Student Safety Act

Expansion of Student Safety Act to make student arrests public: legislation


Thursday, October 1, 2015, 12:32 AM

Cops and education officials would have to make it public when kids are handcuffed in schools under a bill passed Wednesday by the City Council.

The bill also would require that reports be published with data on which schools have metal detectors, when ambulances are called to deal with students, and when NYPD school safety agents are injured in scuffles with kids.

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More Than 90,000 NYC School Kids Searched Before School

More Than 90,000 New York City Students Are Searched Before School

· by Kat Aaron , Jenny Ye and The WNYC Data News Team

Every morning, more than 90,000 New York City public high school students are scanned by metal detectors as they arrive to school. Which schools have scanners is hard to pin down — the Department of Education says it does not share this information for safety reasons.

But the scanners aren’t secret. They can be seen in school lobbies. By calling high schools and using data from the New York Civil Liberties Union and Inside Schools, WNYC found that at least 193 New York City public high schools have metal detectors, accounting for about one-third of the city’s high school population.

Getting scanned before school every day can mean earlier wakeups, long waits and lots of hassle, and whether it’s a part of your morning depends a lot on where you go to school.

Almost two-thirds of high school students in the Bronx go through a metal detector; none go through one on Staten Island. Students in Brooklyn are a little more likely than average to go through scanning, and those in Manhattan and Queens are less likely.

Citywide, almost half of black high school students are scanned every day — compared to about 14 percent of white students. We also found that 43% of English Language Learner high school students are scanned every day.

Read the full story Broken Windows

School Districts Are Moving To Eliminate Zero Tolerance

Christine Rodriguez, Make The Road/UYC Youth Leader in The Atlantic

Christine Rodriguez vividly recalls her early school years. A native of Brooklyn’sBushwick neighborhood, a working-class predominantly black and Latino section of New York City, her most vivid memories of elementary school consist of crammed classrooms with inadequate books, insufficient chairs, and the constant presence of the school-safety agent. (School Safety Agents, or SSAs, are New York Police Department officers assigned to K-12 campuses and charged with protecting students, campus staff, and visitors.) Now a college freshman at The New School studying education, Rodriguez rattles off with ease how school discipline shaped her K-12 education.

“We go to schools where there are more SSAs than guidance counselors. For us, it makes us feel that they expect us to end up in jail rather than in college,” said Rodriguez, 17. “I’ve been to public school my whole life. I’ve experienced the school-to-prison pipeline”—a term commonly used to describe the trend in which largely disadvantaged students are funneled into the criminal-justice system—“and criminalization (of students). And I’ve questioned why all of these things happen to our communities.”

continue reading on The Atlantic Zero Tolernace

A Step Toward Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Gotham Gazette

by Christine Rodriguez, August 17th, 2005

For years, the school-to-prison pipeline has afflicted communities of color in New York. From a young age, students begin to be treated like criminals within the confines of their own schools—from being handcuffed, suspended, and arrested for minor incidents to starting the day by walking through metal detectors and having police be the first people they see.

Young people treated as criminals in school are much less likely to succeed. I’ve seen it first-hand among my high school peers. There are more police officers than counselors in our schools, which makes students feel like they are expected to end up in jail rather college.

This year, I graduated from high school, and I am committed to help end the school-to-prison pipeline. We must stop pushing youth out of school – New York City should be leading the way.

Recently, there was good news for New Yorkers who want to see an end to punitive discipline and more support of students to succeed. The Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline, convened earlier this year and of which I am a member, issued a set of recommendations last month that include measures to reduce school suspensions and arrests, address racial disparities, and collect more important data that will show what we know has been happening inside our schools.

The de Blasio administration, which convened the Leadership Team, has responded enthusiastically, and has committed to incorporating these recommendations into official city policy. Already, the administration has issued a new mission statement that includes a commitment to “reduce the use of suspensions as a disciplinary tool and will eliminate the use of summonses and arrests for minor school misbehavior while continuing to advance school safety.”

The time is right for strong action. Students cannot wait. In 2011, Make the Road New York and many of our partners worked to pass the Student Safety Act, which for the first time made public what we already knew: too many black and Latino youth are being pushed out of school through arrests and suspensions for minor behaviors. The situation has improved under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, but there are still major disparities in school suspensions and arrests that are hurting young people of color and students with disabilities across our city.

And, under the 2011 law, we are still not able to collect data on hundreds of arrests by police offers, all suspensions, and the use of handcuffs and other restraints (which have been used on students as young as five years old). We look forward to getting this data soon.

The new recommendations from the Leadership Team acknowledge continuing challenges and signal a citywide commitment to reform. There is no time to waste.

The next step will be critical. In the coming months, the de Blasio administration, the Department of Education, and the NYPD will work to turn these recommendations into policy. Meanwhile, they will need to ensure that young people of color—who have been disparately affected by this problem—continue to be part of this conversation, weighing in on how we are being treated in our city’s schools and making sure that our wellbeing is front and center in the public discussion.

Equally important, resources need to be allocated to implement new programs, trainings, and staffing to make policy changes effective and ultimately successful.

We’re moving in the right direction, but we can’t stop now.

Christine Rodriguez is a Youth Power Project member of Make the Road New York, the largest grassroots community organization in New York offering services and organizing the immigrant community, and a member of the Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline. On Twitter: @maketheroadny

A Step Towards Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline


Educators call for an End to Suspensions for Minor Infractions


Suspensions for low-level infractions are jeopardizing the education of many New York City children, and they must stop now.

Because the city’s public schools have, over many years, failed to invest in proactive, positive approaches to discipline, they continue to use suspensions to deal with minor infractions.

The result? Thousands of students, punished rather than properly supported, drop out of school and end up unprepared for a successful future.

If this doesn’t change under Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who have talked repeatedly about the need to serve all kids, it probably never will.

The use of harsh discipline has produced a culture in which we don’t help students to learn from mistakes — we just kick them out. And when we suspend students, we actually increase the likelihood of future behavior problems.

Youth suspended just once in ninth grade are twice as likely to drop out of school compared to their peers. Students who are suspended or expelled for a “discretionary action,” such as defying authority, are nearly three times more likely to have contact with the juvenile justice system.

We’re not talking here about a tiny universe of serious troublemakers, but about a sizable chunk of the student population.

According to the Department of Education, there were 53,504 suspensions in New York City during the last school year. Black students make up about 26% of the student population, but were 53% of those suspensions. Students with special needs or disabilities make up 19% of our students but were 36% of the suspensions.

And guess what? The most common reason for suspensions in New York City was “Infraction B-21: Defying or disobeying the lawful authority or directive of school personnel.”

Translation, in many cases: Talking back to a teacher or principal.

What we have here is the stop-and-frisk of school discipline policies. It might have been conceived as a neutral policy, but that’s not the way it plays out in practice. While the Department of Education Discipline Code outlines a range of nine possible responses to a B-21 infraction, far too often the response is still a suspension.

Ending this is not a new or unprecedented idea. As the body of national discipline research has grown, school systems around the country have started recognizing the logical inconsistency of pushing students who need to learn out of the schools that provide them an education.

Just last year, the Los Angeles school district — second largest in the U.S. behind New York’s — banned suspensions for “willful defiance.” Since then, suspensions have dropped 40% for black and Latino students.

What’s the better approach? Restorative justice programs that challenge students to take responsibility and make amends for their behavior, creating a safer and more positive environment for everyone in the school building. We should also roll out conflict resolution, collaborative problem-solving, peer mediation and mentoring programs.

We often are told we don’t have the resources, training or time to handle conflict and discipline in a constructive way.

And yet we do have about $200 millionto place thousands of School Safety Officers in our schools. In fact, there are more School Safety Officers in New York City schools than guidance counselors.

We all desire and need the kind of transformational change in New York City that will ensure a quality education for all of our children. Let’s stop trying to suspend our way out of the problem.

Brewster is a community coordinator at James Baldwin High School, a transfer school in Manhattan. Rubenstein is a special education teacher at a Brooklyn transfer high school. Transfer schools are for students who have previously dropped out or fallen behind in credits.