En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Gothamist
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

NYCLU: Schools Are Safer Without Metal Detectors

The
NYCLU, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University,
and
Make the Road New York have released a
report arguing that schools can create a safer environment without metal
detectors and harsh discipline. The study, called "Safety with Dignity:
Alternatives to Over-Policing Schools," is based on a year-long
examination of six NYC schools with "at-risk" student populations
that do not use metal detectors. According to the report, these schools have
improved attendance, better student retention and graduation rates, and
"dramatically fewer" criminal and non-criminal incidents and school
suspensions than schools equipped with permanent metal detectors.

The
Department of Education says that the study’s claim to better graduation rates
is false, and the NYPD counters that metal detectors have helped schools
confiscate 22 guns last year and six guns so far this year. But NYCLU director
Donna Lieberman says, "The schools profiled in this report prove that
there are effective, real-world alternatives to making schools feel like jails.
They show that treating students with dignity and respect is the best approach
to producing good, safe schools." In a statement, Lieberman adds:

Students, some as
young as five, that’s kindergarten, were handcuffed or assaulted or taken to
jail for infractions like cursing, talking back, writing on the desk, refusing
to show ID, or turn over cell phones. And we’ve seen the emergence of a
terrible phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline, where instead of
graduation and employment or college, large numbers of children, overwhelming
low-income, Black and Latino children, are groomed for jail.

The
NYCLU is recommending that the Department of Education discontinue metal
detectors and emphasize alternative strategies to intervene with troubled
students. According to NY1, the six schools in the study—Progress High School
for Professional Careers (Brooklyn), Urban Assembly for Careers in Sports
(Bronx), Humanities Preparatory Academy (Manhattan), Urban Academy and Vanguard
High School (Manhattan), and Lehman High School (Bronx)—use student safety
officers "who employ conflict resolution techniques, such as fairness
counsels, where both students and teachers discuss infractions and how to deal
with them."

The
study also highlights an interesting stat: Since 1998, when Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani transferred school security responsibilities to the NYPD, the number
of police personnel in the schools soared by 62 percent, from 3,200 to 5,200.
The police force in New York City schools is now
the fifth largest police force in the country—there are more police in New York City schools than there are on the streets of
cities such as Baltimore, Las
Vegas
, Boston and Washington D.C.
Even schools like the elite Stuyvesant
High School
have been
using metal detectors—not to detect weapons but to disarm cheaters who might
use their mobile devices during a test.