November 3, 2011
The release of school-by-school suspension tallies earlier this week was a triumph to advocates who spent years pushing the city to make school safety data transparent.
But it was only a partial win. That’s because the New York Police Department is also required to release school safety numbers under the terms of the Student Safety Act, which the City Council passed nearly a year ago.
The NYPD was supposed to report data about summons and arrests made by school safety agents and about non-criminal incidents in school buildings twice already, in August and again this week. But so far it has released no data.
When the police department missed the first deadline, officials said they were moving slowly to ensure accuracy with the complicated data, the Daily News reported at the time. Today, Paul Browne, an NYPD spokesman, said the department would release the data “after the [computer] programming is completed and the data is carefully tabulated and checked in such a way to insure complete, accurate and reliable reporting to the City Council.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which was instrumental in convincing council members to pass the Student Safety Act, is pushing NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to pick up the pace. Today, the NYCLU sent Kelly a letter today expressing concern about the “unreasonable delay” in releasing the data, noting that the DOE met its reporting deadline despite having to collect similarly complex numbers.
“Withholding this data doesn’t just violate the law, it deprives students, parents and educators of information that will help improve the city’s schools,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. “It’s time for the NYPD to stop the stonewalling and let New York City know what police personnel are doing in our schools.”
The data would expose how school safety agents, the police officers who are assigned to school buildings, handle incidents. Advocates including the NYCLU have long complained that school safety officers are too aggressive and often intervene in disciplinary actions best left to administrators.