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City Council Considers School Safety Act

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The New York City Council is considering a bill that would require the Police Department and the Department of Education to release reports on disciplinary actions taken at city schools, like arrests, summonses and suspensions.

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the Student Safety Act will provide greater transparency for policy makers, education advocates and the public.

"This will give us a basis to give the city's leadership — the mayor, the police commissioner, the schools chancellor — a report card on school climate, and that's long overdue," said Lieberman. She said the bill breaks down the data demographically, providing a clearer picture.

"If there are racial disparities, as we believe there are, if there are gender disparities, if there are ethnic disparities, if children with special needs are ending up arrested when they should be getting support services, everybody needs to know that," she said.

In a statement, the DOE said it's proud of its school safety record, and that it's worked closely with the city council and the NYPD to craft the legislation.

In written testimony submitted to the city council, the NYPD said it shares the goal of keeping students and school personnel safe -- and believes the bill a has created a "reasonable mechanism" for providing information.

The city council could vote on the measure as early as Monday.

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