'Random Scanning' by Police at New Dorp High

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In the latest issue of The New Dorp Voice, the newspaper for New Dorp High School on Staten Island, a student journalist wrote about random searches conducted by the New York City police at their school recently. This article was lightly edited.

By Andrew Sorrentino
The New Dorp Voice

One day in October, New Dorp High School students started their school day with an unexpected surprise. The New York City Police Department checked the book bags of the students and had metal detectors check for weapons and other banned items.

Many students had their cellphones confiscated while they were being scanned. Around fourth period, however, the students were able to retrieve their cellphones and other items that were confiscated earlier that day. It was an interruption of instruction, and students missed at least two periods. According to the attendance office, 606 students were absent that day, probably because word got out about the searches.

"It is a Department of Education policy to implement random scanning at schools throughout New York City that do not have metal detectors and therefore do not scan daily," said Deidre DeAngelis, the principal of New Dorp High school. "I believe that this practice is a component of the citywide safety plan."

The police took cellphones and other items from students that they said were banned by the school policy.

According to the Chancellor’s Regulation A 412 Section V, it clearly "prohibits any electronic devices in school. In addition, it is a violation of Citywide Standards of Discipline and Intervention Measures (The Discipline Code) —B05." Two and a half hours later, the staff returned the cellphones only to hear students complaining and uttering things like, "What was the point of that?"

Many New Dorp high school staff members and students said they believed the confiscation of cellphones was unnecessary. It was also very expensive to buy Ziploc bags and envelopes with labels to collect the phones and iPods.

“They couldn’t take my phone; it was my property,” said Gabriela Polis, a student at New Dorp High School.

“It was very disruptive and I didn’t understand why they gave the cellphones back fourth period,” said Brian Stefanelli, a teacher at New Dorp High School.

Others felt that the police officers were unnecessarily rough.

“I believe that the security team was not used to the good students from New Dorp; they were too rough and reckless with their words and conduct,” said Paul Matteo, a junior at New Dorp High School. “The police need to work on how they go about approaching good students.”

In the end, parents were irate, and secretaries and parent coordinators had to field many calls, pulling them away from their regular work.