|MRNY youth leader Jaritza Geigel speaks at a press conference Thursday with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Robert Jackson
On December 20, 2010, following three years of organizing and advocacy by youth leaders at Make the Road New York and our allies, the New York City Council voted to pass the Student Safety Act, which promotes transparency on school discipline issues.
Signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg on January 6, 2011, this legislation promises be one of the most progressive school safety reporting laws in the country, setting an important precedent for open government. [NY Times]
"I feel very proud of the work we have done. Students from all over the city have advocated for this law," said Jaritza Geigel (pictured), a Make the Road New York youth leader. "It is a personal and a collaborative victory."
MRNY would like to thank City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Members Robert Jackson, Peter Vallone, and Melissa Mark-Viverito for their leadership in passing this historic legislation. We would also like to recognize the important work of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the other member organizations of the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Student Safety Coalition in this effort.
The Student Safety Act provides a detailed framework for the reporting of discipline and police practices in schools on a routine basis. It will require the City Department of Education and Police Department to submit regular reports on student discipline that shows the number of students subjected to suspensions, suspension-related school transfers, summonses and arrests.
Information will be broken down by students' race, gender, age, grade level, special education status, and whether they are English Language Learners, in order to reveal which students are most impacted by current discipline and policing policies. This will help policymakers, educators and advocates to develop solutions that work for all students.
Since the NYPD took control of school safety in 1998, the number of police personnel in the schools has increased from 3,200 to 5,200. In 2008-2009, there were 5,200 school safety officers versus only 3,152 guidance counselors and 1,400 social workers in the schools. The Student Safety Act will provide much needed transparency regarding the actions of this massive police presence.
~ Photos by Claudio Papapietro and Hiram Rivera ~