from the top
Leader of nation’s largest school district tells principals to ‘project a sense of calmness and confidence’ today
According to the Department of Education, New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña sent the following email to school principals, superintendents and field support staff this morning:
As leaders, it is our responsibility to project a sense of calmness and confidence. Many of our constituents, and you, may be feeling disoriented this morning and in the coming weeks. Our job doesn’t change. We lead by doing the work we committed to. We visit classrooms, run meetings, listen to and inspire others to do their best on behalf of our students.
Classrooms remain the focus of our attention. Children arrive eager to learn, process knowledge, and make friends. Teachers give their all to assist students on their path to success and to support them so they become thoughtful, engaged, and productive citizens. You remain steadfast in your conviction that we are on this journey together, and remain steadfast in your resolve.
Please take care of yourselves and please ensure you remain the effective leader your school, and your students, deserve.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised a “bigger vision” to address segregation in New York City schools, but officials have thus far kept details under wraps.
But they’ve been dribbling out some details, most notably a timeline for when a large-scale plan could be released. Officials at a town hall discussion in Brooklyn Thursday night reiterated that a plan would likely be released by June.
We’re “going to propose some new thinking that we have, both about some of the systems that we run and about ways that we can work together locally to make change,” said Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack, who is heading the department’s diversity efforts. “We expect it to come out by the end of the school year.”
BRIC TV host Brian Vines, who moderated the panel co-produced with WNYC, pushed for details. “Is there any one thing that you can at least give us a hint at that’s a concrete measure?” he asked.
But Wallack didn’t take the bait. “What I will say is that we are actually still engaged in conversations like this one, trying to get good ideas about how to move forward,” he said, adding that the education department is talking with educators, parents and schools interested in the issue.
New York City officials have been under pressure to address school segregation after a 2014 report called its schools some of the most racially divided in the country. More recently, debates over how best to change zone lines around schools on the Upper West Side and in Brooklyn have grown heated.
“We have a lot of hard work to do,” Wallack said. “But the mayor and chancellor are deeply committed to that work and to working with all of you to make that happen.”
Correction (Dec. 2, 2016): This story has been corrected to reflect that the town hall event was not the first time officials had described a timeline for releasing a plan.
Arrests, summonses, and serious crimes are all trending downward in city schools, but a new analysis shows black and Latino students continue to be disproportionately subjected to police interventions and handcuffing, even during incidents that aren’t considered criminal.
Those findings come from a New York Civil Liberties Union review of new NYPD statistics on student interactions with regular precinct officers, in addition to their contact with school safety agents posted in schools. Thanks to a city law passed in 2015, this year is the first time those numbers have been publicly released (in previous years, the NYPD only released data on incidents involving school safety agents).
The new statistics add second-quarter data to first-quarter numbers released in July, revealing the persistence of troubling racial disparities over the first half of 2016. Here are six key data points from the NYCLU analysis:
- In the first six months of the year, about 91 percent of school-based arrests, and nearly 93 percent of summonses, were issued to black or Latino students (a population that represents nearly 70 percent of the school population).
- More than 60 percent of all arrests and summonses during the same period were carried out by precinct officers, not school safety agents. “That means precinct-based officers with no specialized training enter schools and arrest children without regard for the impact on school climate,” according to the NYCLU.
- There have been 1,210 school-related incidents where children were handcuffed in the first half of 2016. Nearly 93 percent involved students who were black or Latino.
- Between April and July there were 94 incidents where a student showed “signs of emotional distress” and was handcuffed and taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Ninety-seven percent involved students who were black or Hispanic.
- Over the same period, the city issued 255 “juvenile reports” — which are taken for students who are under 16 and involved in incidents that, if the students were adults, could count as crimes. Ninety-two percent of the reports were issued to black and Latino students. And though only 20 percent of students issued juvenile reports were handcuffed, 100 percent of those restrained were black or Latino.
- There were 44 “mitigation” incidents, in which a student committed an offense and was handcuffed, but then released by the NYPD to school officials for discipline. All of those students were black or Latino.
You can find the NYCLU’s annual roundup of suspension data here.