NYC to limit circumstances when police can enter schools

Police are not supposed to arrest students for low-level offenses but instead opt for diversionary measures to keep them out of the criminal justice system


Anna Sanders
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Police will limit arresting students for such low-level offenses as marijuana possession, disorderly conduct and graffiti under an overhaul of school discipline announced by Mayor de Blasio on June 20.

Cops are also not supposed to arrest or issue summonses for alcohol consumption, trespassing, harassment and spitting “whenever possible,” instead opting for diversionary measures to keep students out of the criminal justice system, according to the agreement on NYPD activity in schools.

“This is a moment of change, this is a moment where students are going to get the support they need to be their best selves," de Blasio said. "It’s going to help us build a stronger and fairer city.”

Proposed changes to the Department of Education’s Discipline Code will also reduce suspensions to 20 days in most cases that don’t involve firearms or serious and violent incidents. The average DOE suspension was already limited from 21 to 13 days, officials said.

The changes are the first since the 1998 agreement made under Mayor Giuliani that gave the NYPD authority over some 5,000 school safety agents. The police patrol guide has also been updated to limit when students can be arrested in class for offenses off school grounds to felonies, sex offenses and crimes when there’s a risk for escape.

The measures come after advocates have argued police activity in schools disproportionately target minorities, with most arrests and summonses given to black and Hispanic students.

Under the agreement, education personnel will also stop referring students to school safety agents when kids make excessive noise, don’t wear their uniforms, cut class, arrive late, use electronic cigarettes, lie to teachers, gamble or commit other “minor” infractions.

All grades will also see aspects of “social-emotional learning,” which trains students to “practice” communication, empathy and problem solving.

Fifty middle schools will get training in “therapeutic crisis intervention.” Middle and high schools across the five boroughs will also implement restorative justice practices that reduce the use of punitive discipline.

The city will also place 85 licensed clinical social workers citywide through a new initiative under Thrive NYC, an expensive and controversial mental health program run by de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray.

Before the announcement, the city’s first lady visited a kindergarten class at PS 705 where students have been using a green, gender nonconforming alien character named “Z” to learn about feelings. The alien is part of a program that will give all elementary schools access to a social emotional learning curriculum.

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©2019 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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