The Student Safety Act will provide much-needed transparency and accountability to school security practices and their impact on the educational environment.
The Student Safety Act would require quarterly reporting by the Department of Education and NYPD to the City Council on school safety and disciplinary issues, including incidents involving arrests and suspensions of students. It would provide the public with raw data to study the impact of disciplinary practices and encourage the crafting of more effective policies.
The Act would also extend the jurisdiction of the Civilian Complaint Review Board to include complaints of misconduct levied against School Safety Agents, NYPD personnel assigned to the schools. More than 5,000 School Safety Agents are in city schools, but there is no meaningful mechanism for parents and students to report safety agent misconduct. The public must have the same rights to file complaints against police behavior in the schools as on the streets.
Nationwide, schools' reliance on over-policing and overly harsh disciplinary policies are criminalizing, rather than educating, our children.
Many schools rely on law enforcement, rather than educators, to handle minor school misconduct. Children are far more likely to be arrested at school than they were a generation ago. The vast majority of these arrests are for non-violent offenses such as “disruptive conduct.”
Too often suspensions serve as a quick fix for disciplinary problems that demand a more supportive response. Yet students who have been suspended are three times more likely to drop out, and more likely to be incarcerated. By suspending students en masse, school security policies are pushing students out of school and into the streets and even jail.
New York City's policing and disciplinary policies have created a crisis.
While the vast majority of School Safety Agents act in a professional manner, an excessive police presence in the schools, including the use of zero tolerance police tactics, too often creates a hostile environment that undermines the learning environment. Police presence in NYC schools is so vast that the NYPD's School Safety Division is the fifth largest police force in the country—larger than the police forces of Washington D.C., Detroit, or Boston.
The NYPD received 2,670 complaints against School Safety Agents between 2002 and June 2007. This number is particularly troubling since few parents and educators are aware of a process to file
complaints against abusive School Safety Agents. In one incident, School Safety Agents handcuffed five-year-old special education student
The New York Civil Liberties Union is a state affiliate of the ACLU