A task force is pushing to remove police from New York City schools to make them more ‘healing-centered’ and proposes paying a total of $3million to families for reviewing ‘harmful policies’.
The task force wants to make schools more welcoming as kids return to classrooms after the COVID-19 pandemic and calls to defund the police after last year’s protests stemming from the death of George Floyd, the New York Daily News reported.
Recommendations included removing all police officers from schools in New York City – even after officials had committed to moving school safety officers from under the banner of the NYPD to the Department of Education.
The task force, formed by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, recommended that every school in the Big Apple ask students and their parents, as well as teachers, to review ‘harmful’ school policies.
It also recommended an estimated $3million budget to reward those who participate in the review process with $250 stipends.
The task force, formed by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, wants to make schools more welcoming as kids return to classrooms after the pandemic
The recommendations included removing all police officers from schools
The recommendations come even after officials had committed to moving school safety officers from under NYPD control to the Department of Education
A woman with a small group of people against the COVID-19 vaccination talks with a school safety officer outside of a vaccination site outside of the Bronx Writing Academy in June
The task force – which was announced in June – includes students, parents, advocates and elected officials, PIX 11 reported.
‘If you as an adult have dealt with trauma over this past year and are struggling to figure out the impact it’s going to have on your life, imaging what it’s like for children,’ Williams said in June.
DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer told the Daily News that the agency is ‘already implementing many of their recommendations.’
‘Our children should return to healing-centered schools this fall,’ he said.
Earlier this month, Chalkbeat reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio had promised in 2020 to move the control of more than 5,000 school safety officers from the NYPD to the Education Department by June 2022.
It was not immediately clear exactly how many school safety officers are employed by the NYPD.
In addition, there are almost 200 uniformed police officers budgeted for the NYPD’s School Safety Division, as noted by Williams, which have further responsibilities.
School safety officers have called the move ‘a little weird’ in interviews with the outlet Bklyner, noting in May that they don’t even carry any weapons.
‘We get totally different training from the police officers. We serve the schools. We do not have any power to give detentions or make arrests. People do not understand our job,’ said officer Quiann Simpkins.
The outlet noted that 90 percent of the school safety officers are black and Hispanic while are 70 percent women.
Katrina Feldkamp, a lawyer for Bronx Legal Services and a member of the task force, said efforts to make kids feel safe in schools have so far been ‘really minimal’
The move also comes after calls to defund the police last year amid protests stemming from the death of George Floyd. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is pictured speaking with NYPD officials to deescalate a standoff between cops and protesters during a march last June
Demonstrators call to defund the police during a protest in Brooklyn after the death of George Floyd last June
School safety officers are represented by the Teamsters Local 237 union, which ripped the move as a ‘dangerous scheme.’
Gregory Floyd, the union’s president, wrote a blistering letter which said the move ‘satisfies calls to ‘Defund the Police’ stemming from this past summer’s tragic shootings of unarmed black civilians.’
‘Reform of police practices is important, but targeting School Safety for removal from NYPD is wildly inappropriate,’ he said.
NYC school safety agent training and requirements
School safety officers currently remain under the banner of the NYPD and work to keep children safe.
There are more than 5,000 school safety officers, called agents, spread out through New York City’s schools.
Before becoming an officer, they are assigned to the police academy for up to 17 weeks and train in topics including law, police science, behavioral science and physical training, according to the NYPD.
Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and least 21 years old with a high school diploma or GED. They must also pass character and background investigations, and a drug screening, as well as live in the Big Apple.
The Department of Education has recently taken a number of such initiatives in a bid to make children feel safer in schools – which the task force concludes do not go far enough.
Katrina Feldkamp, a lawyer for Bronx Legal Services and a member of the task force, told the New York Daily News that efforts so far have been ‘really minimal.’
‘We think that their efforts so far have been really minimal and one-off and have not gotten at the true nature of a healing-centered school, which is that it’s led by students, families and staff,’ she said.
Tajh Sutton, a Brooklyn parent who participated in the task force, told the Daily News that the Education Department should ‘recognize and reward’ parents who ‘do a lot of unpaid and extremely emotionally exhausting unpaid labor.’
In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the Department of Education would hire more than 600 social workers, psychologists, and family support workers to add to the more than 6,000 mental health workers in city schools.
‘We are doing everything we can to make sure our children and their families feel supported. Given the trauma of the past year, we know that starts with building out and fortifying our City’s mental health infrastructure,’ he said at the time.
‘Our message to children, parents, and guardians is clear: we will heal our city together.’
Stephanie Pacheco, 17, graduated last year from the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.
She told the Daily News: ‘We will never be able to have schools centered on healing unless we take out that main source of trauma.’
The formation of the task force also came after Williams released a white paper earlier this year on ‘reimagining school safety.’
The paper also made a number of recommendations, including banning the use of scanning infrastructure like metal detectors and X-ray conveyor belts to monitor students. It also requestee schools to let students expunge their disciplinary records once they have graduated from or left a school.
‘Police were first introduced into American schools in the 1950s and 1960s during a time when student activism through civil rights action in response to Jim Crow racial segregation was rising,’ Williams wrote in the paper.
‘The origins of police presence in schools is inextricably linked to the defense of school segregation—which is especially problematic in New York City’s schools, as it remains one of the most segregated school systems in the country.’
He wrote that the harms of police in schools are ‘well-documented.’
‘Research has shown that police presence in schools does not necessarily reduce in-school violence; instead, adolescent behavior is more likely to be criminalized,’ he wrote.
‘Studies have shown that police presence may actually make students feel less safe, hurts individual academic performance, and causes lasting psychological harm, especially Black and Latinx students.’