In the wake of racial justice protests last summer, many schools are rethinking the relationship between educational spaces and policing. Following the removal of armed police officers from 33 school districts around the country, New York City’s school system will follow suit and begin to remove police from its corridors and classrooms.
The city’s 5,000 school safety agents (SSAs) will be transferred from the supervision of the New York police department to the Department of Education (DoE) in June of next year. This change follows increased training protocols, implemented this past spring, which require all SSAs to be trained in conflict resolution, mediation, restorative justice, and implicit bias.
“The goal of transitioning SSAs back to the DoE is specifically focused on ensuring that SSAs are deeply integrated into the school community, are aligned with the school’s social-emotional work, and are true partners of educators, parents, and students in ensuring the wellness of the entire community,” said New York City Department of Education’s deputy press secretary Nathaniel Styer.
An ACLU report found that in schools with police presence, Black students are arrested at a rate three times that of white students, Latino students were arrested at a rate 1.3 times that of white students, and in some states, disabled students are ten times more likely to be arrested. Transitioning SSAs away from policing and towards restorative justice roles will help ensure that schools are safe and welcoming spaces for all students while emphasizing support and rehabilitation, rather than punishment.