At a mayoral forum in Astoria yesterday, Bill Thompson joined most of his Democratic mayoral rivals in criticizing the existing process by which unruly students in public schools are suspended or arrested.
Thompson said, “The first thing that needs to happen is we need to make sure the final word on arrests and suspensions in schools are the administrators’. That’s the big thing to begin with, not school agents and school safety agents, not the police department.”
But (as was quickly noted on Twitter), Thompson played a role in instituting the NYPD’s direct involvement in school security, some 15 years ago.
During a May 20 interview on NY1, Thompson touted that accomplishment. “Schools weren’t safe, we created a transfer of our public safety division over to the police department so it was more professionally done,” he said.
That and other changes, he said, “happened under my watch.”
A spokesman for Thompson’s campaign said the Thompson’s remarks on NY1 and at the forum were consistent. Thompson wants NYPD agents in schools to make sure they’re safe, but wants school administrators, not the NYPD, deciding whether to suspend or arrest students.
At the forum, Thompson suggested students should not be suspended or arrested for physical altercations like the kind he could have gotten into as a public school student.
“Things I would have been suspended or arrested for when I was in public school, for pushing—I went to New York City public schools—for pushing, for shoving, for getting into a fist fight, that was never supposed to happen.”
When asked about these comments, Thompson, through a spokesman, said, “I’ve been clear and consistent on this – the first job of our schools is to educate. Administrators are in charge and should work with the NYPD and school safety agents to keep classrooms safe. That gives us the right balance – educators focused on the teaching, security professionals focused on safety, and students focused on learning without the threat of criminal records.”
To view the video/article, click here.