Public School 911 Calls

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beth Fertig, contributing editor for education for WNYC and, discusses her reporting on city public schools calling 911 to deal with disruptive students, a large number of whom are enrolled in special education programs.


Beth Fertig

Comments [8]

Cathlin Goulding from New York, NY

This was a fascinating interview! Great reporting from Beth Fertig--this is such a critical issue. Beth was talking a bit about the need for more training for teachers to help them address difficult behaviors in the classroom and de-escalate classroom conflicts or heightened emotions so that teachers and school employees don't have to resort to 911 calls.

I work for the Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project ( and we work with teachers and educators throughout the city. We are offering a special workshop, De-Escalating Challenging Behaviors & Restorative Justice for middle and high school teachers on November 7th. This mini-institute will provide basic classroom management strategies, practice for de-escalating "in the moment" challenging behavior as well as an introduction to restorative justice approaches. Register at:

Sep. 17 2013 05:47 PM
DTorres from Manhattan

Who wants to be the teacher, or school employee, that failed to call 911,
when a student threatens suicide or others with bodily harm and goes
through with it?

It's amazing that there are so many Emotionally Disturbed Kids attending
Public School in NYC, that they need their own school.

Sep. 17 2013 05:12 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If I worked in a school & heard a parent say, "Don't worry if my daughter threatens to kill herself, she's a drama queen," I'd want both the parent & the child to have a psych evaluation. I don't mean that sarcastically at all--it's worth making sure that the child isn't at risk. I've read about too many kids whose parents dismissed their actual suicide attempts by saying they just wanted to get attention.

Sep. 17 2013 11:53 AM

As a parent of a special ed student in Westchester, I have heard stories of emts and police being called for kieds that are out of control or possible violent. I also know that there was a proper kind of hold that the teacher or other school personnel were allowed to do in such situations. It seem that many times, the moods of these type of kids changes very quickly and that maybe if there was training of proper restraining and a quiet room for that kid, the ambulances and emergency personnel would not be necessary. It would probably be much less traumatic and expensive to everyone to avoid such calls while keeping everybody safe.

Sep. 17 2013 11:45 AM

As one of the callers said, if anything should go wrong with these kids, the school staff will pay a high price, possibly getting sued or losing their license. In that environment it doesn't make a sense to take a chance even though calling 911 is often far from ideal.

Sep. 17 2013 11:43 AM

How dare you criticize the way public education is managed here in NY. Special needs kids are obviously being cared for perfected well. In addition, kids graduating without being able to read is not the administrations fault.

I'm guessing the emergency room visits have a direct correlation with avoiding lawsuits.

Sep. 17 2013 11:37 AM
Randie from Queens, NY

If the public school system would hire Marriage and Family Therapists, it would cost a lot less than Psychotherapists. In addition, they have the most targeted training.

Sep. 17 2013 11:37 AM

Be sure to see the comments to the "School Book" post linked above.

Sep. 17 2013 02:46 AM

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