Push to hire school security guards rekindles old debate

The NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information said School Safety Officers are integrated into the school community.

“The NYPD and School Safety Division maintain an open and ongoing dialogue with child advocacy groups, students and other stakeholders to address concerns, while maintaining a balance between the safety of the whole of the school community and the importance of not criminalizing our youth,” the NYPD statement read.

Filling vacancies for public safety officers has been a struggle in recent years, according to Greg Floyd: the president of the union representing school safety officers. Many officers have retired or found other work since the height of the pandemic. Some left or were fired after failing to turn in their required proof of COVID vaccination. About 500 new officers were hired last year, but as many jobs still remain vacant.

In this year’s city budget, public schools are losing an estimated $370 million to declining enrollment according to an analysis by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, with an average reduction of $400,000 a year. school. Many directors have already cut staff and programs due to shrinking budgets. Several council members said they regretted voting for the spending plan.

A group of parents and teachers filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the city council’s vote to approve the budget as a whole. On Friday, the judge in the case ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, granting a preliminary injunction and returning the education portion of the city budget to the city council and mayor for reconsideration.

The NYPD School Safety Division’s enacted budget was also reduced by approximately $23 million from last year’s enacted budget, in part because approximately 560 of the vacant positions were permanently removed from the budget. Still, the budget is $13.5 million higher than estimated spending on school safety for the previous fiscal year, which was updated in June, according to Elizabeth Brown of the Independent Budget Office.

Critics say the education cuts come at a time when schools need more funding to tackle the loss of academic learning caused by the pandemic and a rampant mental health crisis among young people post-pandemic.

In fiscal year 2022, the DOE invested $18.9 million in restorative justice practices and social-emotional learning practices, of which $12.1 million was provided through relief funding federal government, according to a statement from the Ministry of Education. Some school counselors and students said addressing students’ emotional needs and teaching them conflict resolution skills will save money on law enforcement and violence prevention. In some cases, social workers were among those told their positions would be cut due to funding cuts. A DOE spokesperson said the amount of money that will be spent this exercise on mental health, restorative justice, and social-emotional learning is still being consolidated.

Jason Javier, a school counselor in Manhattan, said that in general there is tension between students and the NYPD in schools, especially with black and brown students, who Javier says face more interactions. negative and aggressive.

Javier said: “Students don’t want to be watched; they want to be heard, accepted, understood. He said school safety officers generally respond and react to conflicts at school rather than preventing them.

Javier said relationship building is at the heart of a school counselor’s job, something he thinks school safety officers don’t offer.

“We provide a space for students to be themselves and to feel comfortable, safe and to talk about issues that arise,” Javier said.