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Black and Latino males targeted for arrests in public schools

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 12/9/2011, 1:15 p.m.

More troubling data from the NYPD as a result of the newly enforced Student Safety Act is now revealing information about the arrests of students in schools. According to the NYPD, Black and Latino male students are getting arrested at high rates.

In a report, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) said that more than one student a day is arrested and three students are issued summonses each day. Overall, the School Safety Division made 63 arrests and issued 182 summonses in the reporting period, which included only 43 school days for middle school students and 50 school days for high school students, two-thirds of which occurred during summer school.

During summer school, police arrested or ticketed approximately four students each day in New York City public schools from July through September. About 94 percent of students arrested were Black or Latino and nearly 83 percent were male.

"The data raise concerns about Black students being disproportionately arrested in the city's schools," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. "If the Bloomberg administration is truly serious about closing the achievement gap, then they must address this disparity and focus more attention on educating children, not arresting them."

Disorderly conduct was the top offense, with students receiving summonses at 54 percent. Riding a bike on the sidewalk was the second reason at 13 percent. The Bronx and Queens had the highest number of all summonses issued at 63 percent.

The NYPD only released racial data for arrests. Nearly 70 percent of students arrested were Black and 25 percent were Latino. All of the arrests made in Brooklyn and Staten Island were of Black and Latino students. Black and Latino students represent approximately 29 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of the overall public school population, according to New York City Department of Education statistics.

"This report provides the first glimpse into what the NYPD is doing in our schools," said Udi Ofer, NYCLU advocacy director. "Instead of arresting students who need the most help, the Bloomberg administration should redirect resources from police to services that support student achievement. Why are we employing 5,400 police personnel and only 3,000 guidance counselors?"

There are 200 NYPD officers who patrol city public schools who carry guns while there are about 5,100 peace officers who don't carry weapons.