School safety at a glance
The UFT affirms its continuous and collective concern for making sure New York City schools are safe, respectful and affirming of all students and communities. We all share responsibility to improve, reimagine, communicate and cooperate to ensure the NYPD Division of School Safety has a positive impact on school communities.
- Unlike cities such as Minneapolis, School Safety Agents in NYC public schools:
- Are members of the United Federation of Teachers and the Teamsters Local 237.
- Don’t carry guns/weapons or use body cameras.
- Participate in professional training that is specific to their work in city public schools.
- Often live in the communities they serve and resemble community members.
- Form personal relationships with students and staff, important in preventing and managing conflict.
- Do not report directly to a police precinct but instead report to a division of the NYPD devoted to school safety.
- Initiatives that have improved the positive impact school safety has on school communities include:
- The Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline that, among other things, seeks to address problems of systemic racism and correct unfair practices in the criminal justice system in schools. The UFT is among the groups involved.
- Training on conflict resolution, implicit bias training, de-escalation and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support training and arrest diversion, which has led to decreases in students being handcuffed and arrested in schools.
- Planning and training to address problems of systemic racism and unfair disciplinary practices in schools (e.g. student removal, suspension and arrest data).
- The UFT supports working with others to determine future conversations and actions that may include, among others:
- Continuing to explore ways that School Safety Agents, although members of the NYPD Division of School Safety, embody their unique role as Peace and Safety Officers apart from the NYPD in supporting staff and students in building positive communities.
- Improving and increasing time, training and resources for all school community stakeholders (e.g. parents, students, educators, administration and School Safety Agents) in areas including interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, informal counseling, implicit-bias training, de-escalation and culturally relevant pedagogy.
- Creating opportunities for discussion with all school community stakeholders (e.g. families, UFT, Teamsters Local 237, NYPD) on the ideal roles and responsibilities of School Safety Agents.
- Continuing and improving participation in monthly consultation meetings with the NYPD School Safety division and the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice.
- Further clarifying and communicating the roles all members of a school community can play to create positive environments in conjunction with School Safety Agents and others.
- Continuing to build opportunities for School Safety Agents, students and other school staff to positively interact with, understand and appreciate one another.
- Continuing and improving channels of communication and resolution in instances where in-school issues arise involving the NYPD Division of School Safety.
- Continuing and improving transparency and the sharing of data pertaining to student interactions with School Safety Agents.
- Continuing to create opportunities for conversations and actions about how everyone can address problems of systemic racism, violence and the need for trust in schools and society at large.
Continuing to sponsor conversations and actions to ensure students see "peace officers" in schools as supportive members of the community rather than agents of law enforcement, without compromising the integrity of school safety officers.
Discussing with staff and students the limitations and guidelines of NYPD officers (in addition to ICE and other law enforcement agencies) entering school buildings, as defined in the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding.
Surveying and holding conversations with school communities annually on how safety is handled and can be improved. Using the annual safety town halls, required in the Chancellor's Regulations, as a forum for these discussions.
Discussing the processes in place to limit or revise the use of scanning in schools with staff, parents and, when appropriate, students. The vehicle for this work is the School Leadership Team.
Advocating for increased investment in social services, community and youth development.