The New York Civil Liberties Union today sharply criticized the New York City Department of Education’s continued refusal to make significant changes to its ban on cell phones, ipods and other electronic equipment in schools. The NYCLU also condemned the department's enforcement of the bans throughout use of metal detectors and police officials, who lack appropriate training and are not accountable to school officials.
The NYCLU's comments came on the heels of an announcement by the Department of Education that it will make medical exemptions to the electronics ban.
The following can be attributed to Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director:
"The announcement of rules for medical exemptions ignores the fundamental flaw in the DOE’s security policies, which are characterized by an over-reliance on police and law enforcement strategies to enforce ordinary school disciplinary rules. These policies disrespect principals, disrespect teachers, and -- most importantly -- disrespect children and their parents.
"The NYCLU has received numerous complaints since the beginning of the school year about the DOE's continuing use of roving metal detectors, which are installed without warning at city intermediate and high schools, and the DOE's continuing reliance on ill-trained School Security Officers who are under the supervision of the Police Department and not of school officials. These are the officials enforcing the electronics ban, and their enforcement mechanisms have caused thousands of students to miss thousands of hours of class, caused a decline in school attendance, and resulted in improper confiscations."
"Students should not have to submit to pat downs and police searches simply for trying to go to school. This is a wrong-headed policy that needs more revision than an exemption for students with doctors' notes."