June 17, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Council Member Donovan Richards, a borough president candidate, has called on the city to remove NYPD officers from school security duties.
Richards wants the Department of Education to take back the role of school safety following widespread demands for police reform.
Donovan, in a joint statement released with Brooklyn Council Member Mark Treyger Monday, said that the more than 5,000 NYPD school safety agents should be pulled out of schools.
The current system encourages a zero-tolerance approach to school discipline with severe consequences for minor infractions, the lawmakers said.
Black, brown and special needs students have been disproportionately affected under this system, they said.
The council members said that school safety reforms over the past 25 years have been futile and called for structural changes to be implemented instead.
“At a time of unprecedented crisis, we do not have time for half-measures in service of maintaining a fatally flawed system,” they said.
“We need to return school safety to DOE now, to ensure that the trauma that children are experiencing is temporary, not generational.”
The NYPD took over the Division of School Safety from the DOE in 1998 but the council members said that the police department has resisted reforms.
For example, the NYPD has refused to share reports on the location of metal detectors and random scanners in schools, they said. The city council passed a law in 2015 demanding police hand over this data.
Further, school principals do not have the ability to evaluate the performance of school safety agents, despite an agreement between the NYPD and the DOE last year, they said.
“Enough is enough,” they said. “It is time for the Division of School Safety to be removed from the NYPD and returned to the DOE.”
The legislators want NYPD school safety funds to be diverted into social and emotional support structures for students.
The city spends more on school safety agents than school counselors, social workers, and psychologists combined, they said.
“A seven-year-old having a bad day in a school without a social worker is not an NYPD issue,” they said.
“School safety personnel still have a role to play in keeping children safe but as part of a holistic approach to school climate led by school leaders, not as a fiefdom of the NYPD operating within schools,” they said.