The number of students removed from New York City schools has increased, a new report finds.
The number of police interventions in New York City public schools has risen with Black students and students with severe disabilities disproportionally removed from classrooms, a new report has uncovered.
The report, which was published this week by Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), an education nonprofit organization, analyzed 12,000 incidents described by the NYPD as “child in crisis interventions” where a student is removed from a classroom or school to be transported to a hospital for a psychological evaluation between 2016 and 2020.
According to the data, the number of interventions increased by 24% in the first three quarters of the 2019-2020 school year.
Around 10 percent of these students in crisis were handcuffed, including numerous instances where children under the age of 13, including five, six, and seven-year-olds, were handcuffed before they were forcibly removed from a classroom for evaluation.
“Five-, six-, seven-year-olds getting handcuffed in school. Very, very troubling,” Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children, told Spectrum News NY1 . “I, personally, professionally have represented clients as young as eight years old, who has been handcuffed in school – and I will never forget the day that I got a call from a parent when his child was transported to the hospital.”
She added: “It only exacerbates the problems that already exist. It does absolutely nothing to change the behavior, improve the behavior, and it further alienates the family from the school.”
The data also revealed that Black students – particularly young Black boys – and students with disabilities attending District 75 school, which provides specialized support for students with disabilities, are over-represented in the population of students who police officers removed.
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Between July 2018 and March 2020, 26.7% of all interventions involved Black boys, who were just 13% of the public school population. Similarly, Black girls comprised 20% of all interventions despite accounting for only 12% of enrollment.
In total, Black and Latinx students – who make up two-thirds of the student population-accounted for 92% of all interventions. And all 33 children between the ages of five and seven who were handcuffed were students of color, according to the report.
Campaigners are now calling on the city to implement a new strategy that can reduce school interventions. The AFC recommends that schools no longer call the police or emergency medical services to take students to the hospital when it is not medically necessary. The organization also called for the introduction of a new bill that would significantly limit the NYPD’s ability to handcuff students.
“Students in emotional crisis need emotional support; they don’t need to be criminalized and handcuffed,” Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director, said. “As a city, we need to start treating all students as we want our own children to be treated.”
In response, a Department of Education spokesperson said: “Creating schools that are safe and welcoming for all students is at the core of this Administration’s work, and we have made important changes to drive record decreases in police interventions, arrests, suspensions, and the system-wide adoption of restorative justice practices.
“All students must return to healing-centered schools this fall, and we are hiring over 500 new social workers and adding over 100 more community schools to ensure every student has a caring adult to go to when in crisis.”