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NYPD Data Shows Schools Safer, but Racial Disparities Persist

Some students are issued a court summons for minor misbehavior.  (Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons)
Some students are issued a court summons for minor misbehavior. (Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons)
September 19, 2016

NEW YORK -- The latest New York Police Department data shows New York City Schools are safer than ever, but black and Latino students are still disproportionately subject to police actions.

School crime hit a record low in the second quarter of 2016, and fewer students were arrested overall. But Dawn Yuster, school justice project director at Advocates for Children of New York, said the vast majority of those involved with police while in school were students of color.

"New York City needs to develop and implement a long-overdue strategy plan to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, in which black and Hispanic students are disproportionately arrested, handcuffed, issued summonses and suspended from school,” Yuster said.

Advocates for Children is asking the city to revise the Memorandum of Understanding between the NYPD and the Department of Education to decriminalize student misbehavior by clearly delineating the roles of school administrators and police.

According to Yuster, students as young as 16 are issued summonses to appear in court for minor misbehavior that isn't criminal.

"Matters that should be handled by the school as school disciplinary matters but are essentially being handled by members of the police force,” she said.

The result, she said, is that students miss school to appear in court, and if they don't, a bench warrant for their arrest may be issued, even though the alleged offense wasn't a crime.

In July, a mayoral task force issued a report with recommendations to address racial disparities and reduce arrests. And Yuster noted that schools already are required to have plans and teams trained to deescalate situations involving students in emotional crisis.

"Unfortunately, what we have seen from our extensive work with families on the ground is that schools just have not been getting the training that they need, and that they're required to get,” Yuster said.

She said many other school systems have successfully implemented school arrest diversion programs.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY