A task force is pushing for the removal of police from New York City schools to make them more “cure-oriented” and proposes paying a total of $3 million to families for revising “harmful policies.”
The task force aims to make schools more welcoming as children return to classrooms after the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for police to relieve the burden after last year’s protests over the death of George Floyd, the New York Daily News reported.
Recommendations include removing all police officers from New York City schools — even after officials pledged to move school security officers from under the banner of the NYPD to the Department of Education.
The task force, formed by public attorney Jumaane Williams, recommended that every school in the Big Apple ask students and their parents, as well as teachers, to review “harmful” school policies, the Daily News reported.
It also recommended an estimated $3 million budget to award those who participate in the grading process with $250 stipends.
Task force, formed by public attorney Jumaane Williams, aims to make schools more welcoming as children return to classroom after the pandemic
The recommendations include removing all police officers from schools
The recommendations come even after officials pledged to move school safety officers from under the control of the NYPD to the Department of Education.
A woman with a small group of people against the COVID-19 vaccination talks to a school safety officer outside a vaccination site outside the Bronx Writing Academy in June
The task force – announced in June – is made up of students, parents, lawyers and elected officials, PIX 11 reported.
“If you’ve experienced trauma in the past year as an adult and are struggling to figure out what impact it will have on your life, imagine 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 schools where healing is central this fall,” he said.
Earlier this month, chalk stroke reported that in 2020 Mayor Bill de Blasio had promised to move control of more than 5,000 school safety officers from the NYPD to the Department of Education by June 2022.
It was not immediately clear how many school security officers are employed by the NYPD.
In addition, nearly 200 uniformed police officers are budgeted for the NYPD’s School Safety Division, as noted by Williams, who have further responsibilities.
School security officials called the move ‘a bit weird’ in interviews with the outlet Bklyner, and noted in May that they don’t even carry guns.
‘We receive a completely different training from the police officers. We serve the schools. We have no authority to make any arrests or arrests. People don’t understand our work,” Officer Quiann Simpkins said.
The outlet noted that 90% of school security officers are black and Hispanic, while 70% are women.
Bronx Legal Services attorney and task force member Katrina Feldkamp said efforts to help children feel safe in school have been “very minimal” thus far.
The move also comes after calls to relieve police last year amid protests over the death of George Floyd. Public attorney Jumaane Williams is pictured talking to NYPD officials to de-escalate a standoff between police and protesters during a march last June
Protesters call to punish police during a protest in Brooklyn after George Floyd’s death last June
School safety officers are represented by the Teamsters Local 237 union, which labeled the move a “dangerous plan”.
Gregory Floyd, the union’s president, wrote a blistering letter saying the move “meets calls for ‘Defund the Police’ following last summer’s tragic shootings of unarmed black civilians.”
“Police practice reform is important, but targeting school safety toward expulsion from NYPD is hugely inappropriate,” he said.
The Department of Education recently launched a number of such initiatives to help children feel safer in schools — which the task force says doesn’t go far enough.
Bronx Legal Services attorney and task force member Katrina Feldkamp told the New York Daily News that efforts so far have been “very minimal.”
“We think their efforts thus far have been really minimal and one-off and have not reached the true nature of a healing-focused school, which is that it is run by students, families and staff,” she said.
Tajh Sutton, a Brooklyn parent who participated in the task force, told the Daily News that the Department of Education must “recognize and reward” parents who “do a lot of unpaid and extremely emotionally draining unpaid work.”
In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the Department of Education would hire more than 600 social workers, psychologists and family counselors to expand the more than 6,000 mental health workers in city schools.
“We do 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 and strengthening our city’s mental health infrastructure,” he said at the time.
‘Our message to children, parents and carers is clear: together we will heal our city.’
Stephanie Pacheco, 17, graduated from the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics last year.
She told the Daily News, “We will never be able to have schools that focus on healing unless we remove that main source of trauma.”
The formation of the task force also came after Williams white paper earlier this year on ‘reinventing school safety’.
The paper also made a number of recommendations, including a ban on the use of scanning infrastructure such as metal detectors and X-ray conveyors to monitor students. It also asks schools to have students erase their disciplinary records once they graduate or leave school.
“Police were first introduced to American schools in the 1950s and 1960s at a time when student activism through civil rights actions in response to Jim Crow’s racial segregation was on the rise,” Williams wrote in the paper.
“The origins of the police presence in schools are 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 police damage to schools is “well documented.”
‘Research has shown that the presence of police in schools does not necessarily lead to less violence in schools; instead, adolescent behavior is more likely to be criminalized,” he wrote.
“Studies have shown that the presence of the police can make students feel less safe, harm individual academic performance and cause lasting psychological damage, especially black and Latinx students.”
NYC School Security Officer 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 security officers, called agents, scattered throughout New York City’s schools.
Before becoming officers, according to the NYPD, they are assigned to the police academy for up to 17 weeks and train in subjects such as law, police science, behavioral science, and physical training.
Applicants must be a US citizen and at least 21 years of age with a high school diploma or GED. They also have to pass character and background tests, a drug screening, and live in the Big Apple.