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Report Calls for End to NY School-to-Prison Pipeline

In 2016, students in New York City public schools experienced 1,263 arrests. (Steven Depolo/Flickr)
In 2016, students in New York City public schools experienced 1,263 arrests. (Steven Depolo/Flickr)
April 19, 2017

NEW YORK - Juvenile-justice advocates say New York City is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a punitive approach to school discipline that is ineffective and harms students.

According to a new report by the Center for Popular Democracy and the Urban Youth Collaborative, last year more than 1,200 students were arrested, 92 percent of them black or Latino, and tens of thousands were suspended from school.

According to report co-author Kate Terenzi, an Equal Justice Works fellow at the Center for Popular Democracy, that's costing the city almost $400 million a year in direct investment, including stationing more than 5,000 New York Police Department officers and school-safety agents in public schools.

"And then, there's another $349 million that comes from the social cost that we incur when schools are pushing students out through arrests and suspensions," Terenzi said.

The Urban Youth Collaborative has compiled a "Young People's School Justice Agenda," calling for removing police from schools and reinvesting in students to make schools safer. Terenzi said an important component would be instituting a program of restorative practices that build healthy communities, decrease crime and restore relationships.

"To get that citywide," she said, "it would be $66 million, which is only 18 percent of the NYPD's School Safety Division budget."

The agenda also called for investing in mental-health services, guidance counselors and social workers. While the report focused on New York City, Terenzi said she believes the practice of over-policing public schools is widespread.

"Advocates and youth-led organizations are fighting this way of systematically criminalizing young people in communities all across the country," she said.

The report is online at populardemocracy.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY