Posts tagged "NYCLU"
August 14, 2012
About 21 percent of the city’s middle- and high-schoolers attend schools in the Bronx. But 48 percent of the summonses that police handed out in schools last year went to Bronx students.
That is one statistic about policing in city schools that the New York Civil Liberties Union is highlighting now that it has a full year of school policing data in hand. Since last year, the New York Police Department has been required to publish information every three months about arrests it has made and summonses it has issued in schools, where it has more than 5,000 officers assigned.
Between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, police officers made 882 arrests in city schools and issued 1,666 summonses for behavior, according to the NYCLU’s tally of the year’s data.
Virtually all of the arrests — more than 95 percent — were for black and Latino students, who make up about 70 percent of the city’s enrollment. Three quarters were of male students. And 20 percent were of students between the ages of 11 and 14.
Two-thirds of the summonses were issued for “disorderly behavior,” a category of offense that the NYLCU argues usually amounts to typical teenaged behavior. Those behaviors are best dealt with by educators, not by directing students into the criminal justice system, the group argues. (more…)
June 29, 2012
City high schools that don’t require students to take Regents exams beat city averages on most metrics, even though they serve high-need students at the same rate as other schools, according to a new report.
The report, released this week, was produced by a group of the schools, the New York Performance Standards Consortium. But it examines independent data about student performance and persistence in college to find that students in consortium schools graduate at higher rates and are more likely to attend and remain enrolled in college. And it comes as Department of Education officials are increasingly touting the consortium’s approach to assessment.
The graduation rates are especially high for students with disabilities and English language learners. Nearly 70 percent of ELLs in consortium schools graduate on time, according to the report, compared to about 40 percent across the city. And half of students with disabilities in the consortium schools graduate on time, compared with fewer than a quarter citywide.
“What’s in [the report] is dynamite,” said Michelle Fine, a professor of urban education at City University of New York’s Graduate Center.
Fine was speaking at a press conference hosted by the New York Civil Liberties Union on alternatives to high-stakes testing earlier this week to announce that more than 1,100 academics had signed a letter opposing states’ increasingly reliance on test scores. (more…)
June 18, 2012
New York public school students have fewer options for recourse against discrimination today than they did a week ago.
The state’s highest court ruled last week that public school students cannot use New York’s human rights law to seek recognition of discrimination — or get financial compensation when discrimination has taken place.
Never before have courts ruled that such a large group of constituents is not protected by the law, said Rebecca Shore, the director of litigation for Advocates for Children, which aims to protect low-income students from discrimination.
New York’s human rights law, the first of its kind when it was passed in 1945, prohibits discrimination based on “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex or marital status” in a variety of settings, including “non-sectarian educational institutions,” according to the State Division of Human Rights. Individuals can file complaints with the state’s Division of Human Rights and seek restitution, all without paying for a lawyer.
But after two school districts contested the human rights division’s jurisdiction to investigate and fine them, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled in a 4-3 decision that the division cannot probe discrimination claims in public schools. (more…)
June 25, 2010
When the city proposed changes to its discipline rules, its new policy towards “cyber-bullying” and “sexting” caught the public eye.
But the central changes have nothing to do with text messages. They represent a win by civil rights groups who have been calling on the city to make sure that schools use more counseling and less punishment and suspension to resolve problems.
At a hearing on the proposed changes Wednesday, one middle school principal described a program that she piloted and is now part of the new code. In some schools the program, which is known as PBIS and is designed to encourage good behavior in all students at a school, can include a reward system in which students collect points toward a prize for demonstrating things like good study skills.
Denise Jamison, principal of Williamsburg’s M.S. 50, said that the program has helped improve the behavior of even some of her most struggling students. The “hottest ticket” for rewards, she said, is a “No Uniform Today” pass, or “NUT card.” One day, she recalled, she pulled over a student well-known by school staff for his temper and asked why he wasn’t in uniform.
“He pulls out [his NUT card], and we all started congratulating him,” she said. “Because we knew how much he would have had to improved in order to earn that.” (more…)
Most of the attention surrounding New York’s Race to the Top application has focused on proposed structural changes like lifting the charter school cap and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.
But a civil liberties group says stopping bullying could also help the state snag the federal grant dollars.
The New York Civil Liberties Union is arguing that the state could improve its final Race to the Top score by 7 to 15 points by passing an anti-bullying bill that has languished in the legislature for years. States’ applications are judged on a 500-point scale. In the first round of competition, New York placed 15th of 16 finalists with a score of 408 points.
Here is a letter NYCLU is sending to Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and State Education Commissioner David Steiner calling for the passage of the Dignity for All Students Act: (more…)
January 20, 2010
Stepping up its campaign against excessive policing in city schools, the New York Civil Liberties Union today sued the city on behalf of students who say they’ve been victims of overaggressive school safety officers.
The abuses alleged in the 56-page complaint filed in federal court today “shock the conscience,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman at a press conference this morning. The NYCLU charges that school safety officers threatened, intimidated, handcuffed, and assaulted students whose only offenses included writing on a desk or being late for class.
The NYCLU has sued the city before about single cases of abuse by school safety agents, who are overseen by the police department rather than the Department of Education. In November, the city agreed to pay $55,000 to a student who said he was assaulted by a safety agent at Robert F. Kennedy High School in Queens. Today’s suit is different because it seeks to represent all city students and because it aims to establish that the city’s official school discipline policies violate students’ civil rights. (more…)
May 14, 2009
Mayor Bloomberg’s school leadership has been characterized by secrecy, defiance of the law, and a heavy hand in school discipline, the New York Civil Liberties Union declared today in a report titled “The Price of Power.”
The report details NYCLU’s experiences with the Bloomberg-controlled Department of Education stalling on responding to Freedom of Information Law requests, refusing to comply with student safety-related laws passed by the City Council, and refusing to provide basic data about military recruitment that the organization said the U.S. Armed Forces provided freely.
The report deliberately avoids some of the major questions of the debate about mayoral control of the city’s schools, including whether the mayor should appoint the chancellor and whether the mayor should control the number of seats on the citywide school board. But it does offer recommendations on the law, which is set to sunset June 30 if it’s not renewed or revised.
The recommendations include making the public school system a city, rather than state, agency, which would bring it under a slate of good governance regulations about public notification of policy changes; opening the school system to audits by the city comptroller and public advocate; and requiring that schools contracts get publicly vetted.
Transforming the Department of Education into a city agency would also allow the City Council to make laws about the public schools that the DOE would be accountable for implementing. Like others recommending changes to mayoral control, NYCLU is saying that the city’s Independent Budget Office should get the right to receive and review DOE data, but the group adds the idea that the department needs an “inspector general” who would investigate systemic wrongdoing. (more…)
December 22, 2008
A report out today by the New York Civil Liberties Union says the Department of Education should bolster its daycare program for students with young children of their own. But because of budget cuts, the DOE could actually move in the opposite direction, cutting off young parents’ access to free DOE-run daycare centers currently housed in 40 public schools across the city.
The programs, called LYFE centers, have existed since 1982. Last year, after the city eliminated special schools just for pregnant and parenting teens, saying that the schools were academically weak, the LYFE centers became the centerpiece of the DOE’s services for young parents.
Now the centers could also be on the chopping block, a possibility that has one editor of the report worried.
Without the LYFE centers, “the DOE would lack any real meaningful services for this very high-risk population,” Galen Sherwin, director of NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Program, told me. “The outcome would be devastating.”
The LYFE centers have already taken a hit from the faltering economy. (more…)
December 8, 2008
The New York Civil Liberties Union has spent the last few years arguing that police officers are too aggressive in public schools. Today, it is spotlighting a Queens high school where a 16-year-old says police beat him so forcefully that he had to have surgery. Other students at the school also say they have been assaulted by safety agents.
Yesterday, NYCLU sent a letter to Chancellor Klein and police commissioner Ray Kelly calling on them to investigate the allegations of abuse. At a press conference this afternoon, at Hillcrest High School in Queens, they will make this demand publicly, and will also call on the City Council to pass the Student Safety Act, which would increase oversight of the more than 5,000 safety agents in city schools.
NYCLU’s letter, obtained by GothamSchools, says the school’s administration has not responded to complaints about alleged abuse:
It is our understanding that several students and at least one community organization have approached the school’s administration about these reports in hopes of remedying the situation. These attempts have been fruitless, according to the organization, as the administration has turned a deaf ear to these concerns.
Just a few weeks ago, a student at Robert F. Kennedy High School in Queens filed a lawsuit alleging that a school safety agent there kicked open a restroom stall door, injuring him. NYCLU has filed a complaint with the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau on his behalf.
A Department of Education spokesperson said she cannot comment on pending litigation.
November 21, 2008
With time running out in this legislative cycle, students and advocates are increasing pressure on the City Council to hold hearings and vote on the Student Safety Act. The bill, which has been waiting in the City Council for months, and has 26 councilmembers signed on as co-sponsors, would increase transparency and accountability for School Safety Agents. If no action is taken by January, it will have to be reintroduced to the City Council.
The Student Safety Coalition, made up of community organizations from around the city, is organizing a rally at City Hall on Sunday to call for hearings and a vote. Organizers told me that city youth feel betrayed that for months council members have claimed to be too busy to hold hearings on the Student Safety Act, but were able to act to extend term limits in a matter of days.
In addition to organizing the rally, activists have set up a web page allowing the public to send a letter to the City Council in support of the act.