Home > Uncategorized > NYC Mayor Shows the Way Forward to Make Schools Safe AND Fair: More Social Workers and Fewer Arrests

NYC Mayor Shows the Way Forward to Make Schools Safe AND Fair: More Social Workers and Fewer Arrests

June 23, 2019

Earlier this week NYTimes writer Eliza Shapiro reported on a major shift in the approach to discipline in NYC public schools, a shift that will de-emphasize arrests in favor of restorative justice and intervention by social workers. Here’s a synopsis of the recently issued 15 page MOU between the NYPD and NYBOE:

School safety agents will be discouraged — but not explicitly banned — from arresting students or giving summonses for minor offenses like marijuana possession, graffiti or disorderly conduct.

That shift, which was first reported by the education news site Chalkbeat, is covered under an agreement between the Police Department and Department of Education that had not been updated since former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s administration. Mr. de Blasio is also proposing that the maximum length of an out-of-school suspension drop to 20 days from 180 days.

Ms. Shapiro recounts the difficulties Mayor de Blasio faces in making changes to the existing discipline system, citing widely differing ideas about what is needed to maintain school safety. On the one hand there are students who want to remove metal detectors from school and on the other are teachers who oppose Mr. de Blasio’s eminently reasonable proposal to ban suspensions in Kindergarten. This incremental change, I believe, moves the district in he right direction, which appears to move in the direction of replacing police officers and arrests with social workers and restorative justice. Here’s Ms. Shapiro’s synopsis:

After years of sometimes rocky experimentation with ways to replace former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s so-called zero tolerance approach, the city will use restorative justice practices that emphasize defusing conflict over suspensions in all middle and high schools starting in the next school year. The city will add 85 new social workers, funded as part of the final city budget, to schools in an attempt to ease the transition.

Ms. Shapiro notes that Mr. de Blasio’s shift in the school discipline is congruent with his overall aim for the city:

Mr. de Blasio has heralded his school safety agenda as a microcosm of his broader goal that the city can be both safe and fair to black and Hispanic communities who have had the most contact with the criminal justice system.

Mr. de Blasio’s critics on the left might not think he is moving fast enough… but in fairness to the mayor, he is fighting two potent forces in introducing the changes to the system: fear and racism.

 

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