Rally & press conference to demand that City Council holding hearings to pass the Student Safety Act
Contact: Contact: Caitlin Ervin, 646-379-2204
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
November 21, 2008 -
High School Students & their allies to Rally for Transparency & Accountability for School Safety Agents
WHAT: 100+ high school students in the Urban Youth Collaborative will rally on the steps of City Hall to & hold a press conference to demand that the City Council hold hearings to vote on the Student Safety Act. Will use skits, hold a picket line, and many will dress as graduates or prisoners.
WHEN: Sunday, October 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm.
WHERE: On the steps of City Hall.
WHO: Over 100 high school youth members of the Urban Youth Collaborative; their allies in the Student Safety Coalition (parents, teachers, NYCLU); and Denis Rivera, whose 5 year-old son was handcuffed to his chair by school security in his kindergarten class.
WHY: There are over 5,000 School Safety Agents (SSAs) in NYC schools. This is the fifth largest police force in the country -- larger than the police forces of Washington D.C., Detroit, or Boston. SSAs are hired and trained by the NYPD, with little or no mechanisms to hold them accountable. The Student Safety Act will hold School Safety Agents accountable for their actions. It will allow students to file complaints about the 5,000 School Safety Agents that are in NYC schools at the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). Right now there is no meaningful way for parents and students to report safety agent misconduct.
"If we can file complaints to the CCRB about police officers in the street, why shouldn't we be able to do the same in schools? Safety Agents are trained by, and fall under the NYPD. Their uniforms say NYPD, their cars say NYPD, everything about them says NYPD," says student and UYC leader Shantell Peterkin of the Bronx.
The Student Safety Act would legislate that the Department of Education and NYPD report incidents involving arrests and suspensions of students to the City Council. "Reporting the numbers is important because it will prove what we (students) have been saying for so long. It will be able to show how Black and Latino students from poor schools are targeted more," points out Korrey Butler, youth member of the UYC.
Already, 26 City Council members have signed on to the Student Safety Act, and the UYC demands that Education Chair Robert Jackson & Public Safety Chair Peter Vallone call a hearing so the Council can vote on the Act. "We know that when the Council wants to they can call hearings quickly -- just look at what happened with term limits last month," says Alejandro Ramos, 16, "All we're asking for is a hearing and a vote. Democracy."
Since the November NYC elections, MRNY members have been hard at work setting the agenda for our next mayor, City Council and citywide elected officials.
We kicked off "Talking Transition" with a low-wage worker forum and our attorneys have been staffing a Single Stop clinic around the clock at the Transition tent.
Recently, our youth joined the Transitions conversation to bring education and police reform issues into the spotlight for the new elected officials. 17-year-old youth leader Cheyanne Smith was also profiled in the New York Times for her leadership to make NYC schools more respectful, safe, and dignified places for learning.