2010-12-29 / Features

New Student Safety Act Passed By Council

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. was joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on December 17 at a hearing for Intro 442, a bill meant to provide information regarding student disciplinary measures and actions relating to school safety. Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. was joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on December 17 at a hearing for Intro 442, a bill meant to provide information regarding student disciplinary measures and actions relating to school safety. Responding to long-standing criticisms abut how city cops carry out their school safety duties, the City Council, on Monday, approved a new law intended to provide unprecedented information gathering and reporting regarding student disciplinary actions taken by police in enforcing their student safety function.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had stated previously that the Student Safety Act “will help make sure the city provides a safe and secure learning environment for our children by promoting transparency in the way discipline is administered and schools policed.

“Thanks to the dedication and collaborative work of the council, Department of Education (DOE), NYPD and the Student Safety Coalition, we are now a step closer to having real accountability for students.”

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), who wrote the existing crime in schools law, and a prime sponsor of the new law, said after its passage, “Access to this important information will help everyone involved keep kids safer.”

Vallone referred to the new law’s provision requiring the DOE and NYPD to submit reports to the council detailing school safety matters and student disciplinary measures.

The reports will provide information about school-based disciplinary actions, including suspensions, and reports on the number of arrests and summonses issued by school safety agents as well as police officers.

To provide further transparency, information in the reports will be broken down into categories of race/ethnicity, gender, grade levels, age and whether a student has a special education English Language Learner (ELL) status.

Accuracy and detailed reporting about security in schools will be a valuable tool that will be used to monitor activity in the schools, the bill’s sponsors believe, as well as identify and address any problems that may occur.

The NYPD’s School Safety Division is made up of more than 5,200 officers and school safety agents who are assigned to the public school system and its more than one million New York City school children.

Groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund have often complained that police officers assigned to schools often overreach to minor incidents, such as scribbling on a wall.

NYCLU applauded the new legislation as “the most progressive bill of its kind”.

—John Toscano

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