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Letter from the NYCLU to New York’s District Attorneys Re Truancy Sweep

NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION & 100 BLACKS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT WHO CARE Mr. William C. Thompson Jr., President New York City Board of Education 110 Livingston Street Brooklyn, New York 11201 Mr. Harold O. Levy, Interim Chancellor New York City Board of Education 110 Livingston Street Brooklyn, New York 11201 Dear Sirs: The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care have received troubling information concerning the implementation of the New York City Police Department’s Truancy Sweep Program. The NYCLU raised serious civil liberty and policy concerns when the program was first implemented. Now we have information from several students and their parents documenting negative and possibly unconstitutional interactions between the NYPD and students. For example, some of these interactions took place on or near school property involving students who were, in fact, tardy–not truant. Many of these interactions resulted in the questionable detentions, arrests, and court involvement for students who were simply doing what we want them to do — going to school. While we all agree that truancy is an extremely important issue, we believe that the use of Police Officers to address a complex educational issue is ill conceived and fraught with potential peril. We wish to see truancy handled by educators, not cops. Consequently, in light of this information, we would like to meet with you and your staff at your earliest convenience to discuss our concerns and to eliminate what we feel is a possible serious threat to both our children’s safety and our ultimate goal, increased attendance. The issues of safety and truancy are so urgent they demand that we address this matter immediately. We look forward to hearing from you regarding our concerns. Sincerely, Donna Lieberman Executive Director

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