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The New York City Council is set to pass a set of sweeping reforms to the Student Safety Act that will result in increased data reporting on school discipline practices and their impact on our city’s children. The amendments will require, for the first time, reporting by both the NYPD and the Department of Education on the use of metal detectors, handcuffs and restraints in city schools.
September 15, 2015
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.
February 25, 2015
New York City educators will face new restrictions on handcuffing students or suspending them from school, as part of regulations proposed earlier this month by the city’s education department. If the proposals are adopted as expected, schools will also have to begin tracking the number of times students are tied down or otherwise restrained. Last year, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR showed that restraints are frequently used in schools across the country. Hundreds of students are injured each year. Our reporting also found that many of the nation’s largest school districts, including New York City, do not report the number of restraints to authorities despite being required to do so by the federal government. Los Angeles and Chicago, the country’s second and third largest school districts, also reported zero restraints.
February 13, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration on Friday announced changes to the discipline code that governs New York City’s public schools, an attempt to further rein in some of the most severe punishments while also keeping schools safe. Mr. de Blasio campaigned on social justice themes, including the way discipline is meted out in schools. But the new measures, which are to take effect this spring, offer a more muted approach, with compromises on some of the most contentious tools of school discipline. “No parent should have to choose between a school that’s safe for their child and a school where every student is treated fairly,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “All our schools can and must be both.”
Read more: http://nyti.ms/1F9O1Gd
February 3, 2015
In New York City schools, students who need the most help are often the same students who miss class time because they’re punished. Rather than suspend them or demonize them, these students should receive a guidance counselor or social worker. Education is a child’s right — not a reward for good behavior. Sadly, in our public schools, the kids who need help the most are often the same kids missing school because of a suspension, ticket or even an arrest. During 2013-14, more than four arrests or criminal summonses were issued every day of the school year, turning routine misbehavior like drawing on the desk into criminal matters. “Insubordination” and horseplay resulted in nearly 14,000 suspensions for sixth through 12th graders. Young men of color and those with special needs bear the brunt of these policies. The consequences are severe: Children who get pushed into the criminal justice system are less likely than their peers to graduate. The good news is that school arrests and summonses have gone down over the past year — as has crime
February 3, 2015
City Council members including Ritchie Torres signed a letter asking Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to reduce the number of suspensions in city schools and offer more support to students. They say the current system unfairly targets black and Hispanic students, who made up roughly 90% of the 53,000 suspensions in 2013-14. New York Civil Liberties Union Director Donna Lieberman said that an overhaul of school discipline is overdue. “All New York City children deserve safe, secure and supportive schools,” said Lieberman. “Adopting common sense and humane discipline policies is a crucial step in making that vision a reality.”
October 30, 2014
There are more than 5,000 school safety officers in New York City. Current guidelines permit them to handcuff students, even if they are only 5 years old, when the student “poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.” Physical restraint, however, should be “discontinued as soon as imminent danger of serious or physical harm […] has dissipated,” the guidelines state. The NYCLU — which has sued the NYPD in the past for its use of force in schools, as well as for wrongfully arresting students — called for sweeping changes in the way the city’s students are disciplined. “School discipline is a matter for educators, not police,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
October 29, 2014
Weeks after a five-year-old boy was restrained at his school, the New York Civil Liberties Union called on the Department of Education to cut down on the use of force by school safety agents. Executive Director Donna Lieberman said she was disappointed that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has not made any changes to school safety, which is controlled by the police department. She said too many students are restrained and arrested at school for minor offenses. “We want an end to the use of handcuffs; we want to end to the control of school discipline by school safety officers,” she said, at a press conference where she was joined by several teenagers who said they had witnessed arrests with handcuffs at their schools. “School discipline is a matter for educators, not police.”
October 29, 2014
The de Blasio administration isn’t moving fast enough to make long-promised reforms to the way student discipline is handled in schools, advocates say. Children as young as five are still being handcuffed in schools too often, they say, and safety agents—not teachers and principals—are handling most disciplinary matters. And while city officials say changes are on the way, months of silence from the de Blasio administration led the New York Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups to take their frustrations public on Wednesday. “The de Blasio administration must stop dragging its feet and make the safety of our children in school its top priority,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, which organized a press conference outside of the city’s monthly Panel for Educational Policy meeting.
October 1, 2014
Policy changes are coming to New York City schools after a 5-year-old special-needs student was tied up as part of a punishment for acting out at his Bronx school, and the incident was caught on cell phone video. In response to the story, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is not satisfied with the current strategy, and that the use of velcro straps “would be a rarity under our new policy.” The mayor seems to think PS 107 took things too far, even though the initial restraint of Derick Marte falls within current guidelines. But the video, taken by mother Alicia Cabrel, seems to show the agents restraining the child even after the perceived danger had subsided. The guidelines state that restraints can be used only when the child’s behavior “poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.”