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School Safety Personnel Continue To Interfere At Bronx High Schools

School safety personnel at a Bronx high school continue to interfere with the authority of school officials and undermine the education process in the latest of new, troubling incidents cited by the New York Civil Liberties Union. In a third letter sent to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein on the matter, the NYCLU once again called on the Chancellor to respond to the important issues raised by these and earlier incidents by providing the NYCLU with written policies governing school safety agents and police officers assigned to the schools. The latest incidents followed the dismissal of charges against the Bronx Guild HS principal, school aide and student who were arrested by an NYPD officer assigned to the school.

“The ongoing problems with school safety personnel are utterly unacceptable,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “Unless and until corrective action is taken by the Department of Education and the New York City Police Department, incidents such as these with school safety personnel will continue to occur and to negatively impact education. Procedures must be put in place to avoid such difficulties.”

The latest incidents involve students, parents and educators at the Bronx Guild HS and Pablo Neruda HS which are housed within large impact school Adlai Stevenson HS. On April 7th at 5pm, parents attempting to enter Stevenson for a parent-teacher night at the smaller schools were blocked from entering by school safety personnel, even though the smaller schools had secured a permit from the Department of Education allowing parents into the building before 5:30pm. Safety personnel ignored the permit and the pleas of the principals of Bronx Guild and Pablo Neruda. They only allowed the parents to enter when the assistant principal from Stevenson HS arrived on the scene, 20 minutes later.

The day after this incident, school safety agents denied entry to at least 5 Bronx Guild students who arrived at 9:15am and were scheduled to present a project on a Presentation of Learning (POL) day at 10am. After two unsuccessful attempts to enter the building, school safety personnel refused their entry. The students went home, missed the POL and the entire day of school.

And the most recent incident on April 15th involved a Bronx Guild student refused entry into the Stevenson building because he was carrying a basketball. The student had brought the ball for use in a gym class at the locally-based community organization whose facility Bronx Guild uses because it has limited access to Stevenson’s two gymnasiums. After 15 minutes, the safety personnel refused to let him enter the school and then confiscated and “vouchered” the basketball. The student was then forced to go to the dean’s office to retrieve it.

The NYCLU has raised important issues related to school safety, the relationship between school safety personnel and school officials and the authority of principals over their schools in three separate letters to the Chancellor. The Chancellor has yet to provide satisfactory answers to the letters. The NYCLU renewed its request to meet with the Chancellor to discuss the issues and concerns it has raised and to provide whatever written policy exists governing school safety personnel and police officers assigned to work in City schools.

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