Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
City to Start Collecting Data on Student Arrests, Suspensions
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Data about student arrests and suspensions must be filed on a regular basis starting this week when a law signed in January goes into effect that requires police and schools to be more transparent.
Robert Jackson, chairman of the City Council's education committee, said arrests and suspensions will be broken down by race, ethnicity, gender, age and geography. They'll also note when students have disabilities or are English Language Learners.
"You analyze that also to see whether or not there's any patterns," Jackson said. "And also reporting-out to find out whether or not arrests, suspensions are going up, are going down."
Some education and community groups and the New York Civil Liberties Union have complained for years that safety agents are too aggressive. They point to instances in which students have been handcuffed for seemingly minor infractions. There are now more than 5,000 uniformed officers in the city's schools, and police are in charge of the safety division.
The NYPD reported it receives about 1,200 complaints a year about police misconduct in schools, but it's been harder getting statistics about arrests and suspensions.
The reports will be made twice a year, with the first one due to the City Council at the end of October. The NYPD will also have to make quarterly reports on non-criminal incidents in schools.
Marge Feinberg, a department of education spokeswoman, said the agency will comply with the law. She also said major crime in schools fell 7 percent between 2008-09 and 2009-10, and violent crimes fell 6 percent in that same period.