brooklyn shuffle

Brooklyn borough president appoints a new panel member

When the Panel for Educational Policy convenes tomorrow evening for its monthly meeting, members will welcome a new Brooklyn borough representative to the stage.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has appointed Kelvin Diamond to serve as the representative to vote on the Department of Education’s proposed policies, a Markowitz spokesman confirmed today. Diamond, a director at the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA, will resign from his current post on the District 13 Community Education Council, an elected parent committee.

Gbubemi Okotieuro, who served as the Brooklyn borough representative for more than three years, resigned “for professional and personal reasons,” the spokesman said. Okotieru is Associate Dean for Governmental Relations at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights.

Okotieuro did not respond to requests for comment. Okotieuro was appointed to the panel in 2009. During his three-year tenure, he often sided with the department’s proposals, but his stance on one of the city’s cornerstone reform policies — school closures — hardened in the last year. Okotieuro joined a bloc of four borough representative that rejected proposals to close a combined 48 schools last school year.

The ‘no’ votes never made much of impact on whether any of the proposals were ultimately approved. Mayor Bloomberg controls the votes of eight members on the 13-person board and in the ten years since the panel was established, no policy has ever been voted down. In 2004, Bloomberg fired three of his appointees after they said they would oppose one of his proposals.

For Diamond, it could be a short-term appointment. The 2013 mayoral election promises to reshape how education policy is made in New York City and the panel’s composition could be overhauled as part of those changes. Even if it doesn’t, Markowitz’s term limits expire next year and his replacement will likely appoint his own representative.

Diamond, a former consultant for Hewlett-Packard, is a relatively unfamiliar face in education policy. In 2009, however, Diamond was quoted in the Daily News as saying he supported mayoral control,  but believed parent councils should have more power.

“You need parents to weigh in on what the mayor is doing, but we’re only advisory,” he said.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.