The New York Civil Liberties Union today applauded Mayor Michael Bloomberg for signing into law the Student Safety Act, one of the country’s most comprehensive local reporting laws on student discipline and arrests.
“The Student Safety Act sheds light on policing and disciplinary practices in the city’s schools,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “By signing this legislation into law, Mayor Bloomberg has demonstrated his respect for the core democratic principle of open government.”
The City Council passed the legislation on Dec. 20 in a 47-0 vote. It was supported by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone, Jr. The NYCLU and its partners in the Student Safety Coalition lobbied for the legislation for three years.
The Student Safety Act provides a detailed framework for the reporting of discipline and police practices in schools on a routine basis. The law requires the New York City Department of Education to provide the City Council annual and bi-annual reports on the numbers and types of student suspensions citywide. It also requires the NYPD to submit to the council quarterly reports detailing the activity of its personnel in city schools. These reports will show the number of students arrested and issued summonses broken down by patrol borough, and it will detail non-criminal incidents involving NYPD personnel.
Information in the annual discipline report and the NYPD’s quarterly reports will be broken down by students’ race, gender, age, grade level, special education status and whether they are English language learners.
Educators, parents, policymakers and advocates will be able to analyze this data regularly to determine the impact of school safety policies on student achievement and school climate.
“Armed with data provided by the Student Safety Act, advocates and policymakers can work together to improve school climate, narrow the achievement gap and raise graduation rates in city schools,” said NYCLU Advocacy Director Udi Ofer.
The NYCLU worked with the Student Safety Coalition in support of the Student Safety Act. Coalition members include:
- Advocates for Children of New York
- Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW 2325
- Bronx Defenders
- Children's Defense Fund – New York
- Class Size Matters
- Correctional Association of New York
- CUNY Graduate Center Participatory Action Research Collective
- DRUM - Desis Rising Up and Moving
- Make the Road New York
- NAACP-Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- NAACP New York State Conference
- National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
- National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter
- New York Civil Liberties Union
- New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
- Suspension Representation Project
- Teachers Unite
- Urban Youth Collaborative
- Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice