***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
November 21, 2008 –
High School Students & their allies to Rally for Transparency & Accountability for School Safety Agents
WHAT: 100+ high school students in the Urban Youth Collaborative will rally on
the steps of City Hall to & hold a press conference to demand that the
City Council hold hearings to vote on the Student Safety Act. Will use
skits, hold a picket line, and many will dress as graduates or prisoners.
WHEN: Sunday, October 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm.
WHERE: On the steps of City Hall.
WHO: Over 100 high school youth members of the Urban Youth Collaborative;
their allies in the Student Safety Coalition (parents, teachers, NYCLU);
and Denis Rivera, whose 5 year-old son was handcuffed to his chair by
school security in his kindergarten class.
WHY: There are over 5,000 School Safety Agents (SSAs) in NYC schools.
This is the fifth largest police force in the country — larger than the police forces
of Washington D.C., Detroit, or Boston. SSAs are hired and trained by the
NYPD, with little or no mechanisms to hold them accountable. The
Student Safety Act will hold School Safety Agents accountable for their
actions. It will allow students to file complaints about the 5,000 School
Safety Agents that are in NYC schools at the Civilian Complaint Review
Board (CCRB). Right now there is no meaningful way for parents and
students to report safety agent misconduct.
"If we can file complaints to the CCRB about police officers in the street,
why shouldn’t we be able to do the same in schools? Safety Agents are
trained by, and fall under the NYPD. Their uniforms say NYPD, their cars
say NYPD, everything about them says NYPD," says student and UYC
leader Shantell Peterkin of the Bronx.
The Student Safety Act would legislate that the Department of Education
and NYPD report incidents involving arrests and suspensions of students to
the City Council. "Reporting the numbers is important because it will prove
what we (students) have been saying for so long. It will be able to show
how Black and Latino students from poor schools are targeted more,"
points out Korrey Butler, youth member of the UYC.
Already, 26 City Council members have signed on to the Student Safety
Act, and the UYC demands that Education Chair Robert Jackson & Public
Safety Chair Peter Vallone call a hearing so the Council can vote on the
Act. "We know that when the Council wants to they can call hearings
quickly — just look at what happened with term limits last month," says
Alejandro Ramos, 16, "All we’re asking for is a hearing and a vote.