A new wave of school discipline policy changes could pave the way for fewer metal detectors in schools.
The plans, which city officials announced Monday, take up many of the recommendations offered this summer by a task force appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. They also continue his administration’s effort to shift the school system away from discipline policies that remove misbehaving students from school.
According to the city’s new “roadmap” for changing school discipline, the police department will develop a tool to determine where scanning could be scaled back or eliminated. A new guide to scanning will note that school officials, not just safety officers — who are under the authority of the police department — should be involved in scanning students.
Eighty campuses, many of which include multiple schools, have metal detectors. In September, WNYC reported that almost two-thirds of high school students in the Bronx are scanned before entering school every day, a policy that some students and school leaders say contributes to an atmosphere of mistrust or criminalization. Metal detectors also picked up 712 weapons in the 2013-14 school year, according to the New York Post.
The city also announced that a new “social-emotional learning advisory board” will be tapped to develop ways to teach students tactics for controlling their emotions. The City Council is also continuing to provide money for schools to receive formal training in restorative justice techniques, where students are pushed to repair harm they caused.
The changes follow the city’s announcement last week that school suspensions fell 17 percent last year. But even as suspensions have fallen sharply over the last three years, one-tenth of the city’s schools give out more than 40 percent of suspensions, according to the task force’s July report.
Their recommendations included offering more support for the schools with the highest suspension rates and the creation of a senior school discipline advisor. Officials said Monday they will do both, appointing former Eagle Academy Queens Principal Kenyatta Reid to a senior director role.
The task force is scheduled to release more recommendations next spring.