NYC Schools Disintegrating Under Bloomberg

Suspended students, suspended education

“Yvette got upset and yelled, ‘Don’t touch me!’ She tried to leave but was handcuffed and arrested by another school safety officer. Yvette was taken to the police precinct where she spent seven hours in handcuffs before being released to her mother.”

And I cannot omit from this documentation of school suspensions—in this city where Michael Bloomberg rates himself as “the best mayor ever”—the suspension story of Monica: “One morning, as Monica was entering her Brooklyn middle school, her principal demanded to search her clothing and her belongings as part of an apparently random search. She cooperated as he repeatedly reached his hands into her pockets and then searched her backpack.

“The principal took a bottle of orange juice out of Monica’s backpack and began to yell at her for trying to bring juice into the school—drinks with added sugar are prohibited by DOE policy”—and by our Maximum Dietician, the very caring mayor.

Kindergartners at the Bronx Success Academy
Photo by Arlene Gottfried
Kindergartners at the Bronx Success Academy

“Monica held onto the bottle, trying to explain that it was a type permitted under the rules. As Monica and her principal tugged on opposite ends of the bottle, Monica was tackled by a group of school safety officers who threw her to the ground, kneeled on her back, and handcuffed her.”

Sure makes you proud to be a New Yorker, right? But this teaching moment was not finished: “Her twin sister, who was not subjected to search, saw the police slam Monica’s head down on the floor. She began crying and begging the police to help her sister up. When she tried to intervene, she, too, was handcuffed.”

Both sisters had more to learn about proper student behavior: “Monica was handcuffed to a table in a broom closet, and her sister was handcuffed in an empty classroom for two hours while their father waited at the security desk to pick them up. Neither Monica nor her sister was asked to write a statement, and neither was charged with a crime.”

How, then, in view of the way these students were treated by the school safety [sic] officers, was there no punishment, or at least a reprimand, of their brutish abusers?

Ask the disciplinarian of us all, the legendary Michael Bloomberg!

The NYCLU’s recommendation to stop this reign of terror includes “mandating positive alternatives to suspensions when appropriate,” and, even more radically, “provide support services for students’ emotional and psychological needs” and, most importantly, “encourage meaningful public input in the discipline process.”

This requires, of course, candid, even high-volume input from students and parents! But first, shouldn’t Mayor Bloomberg sign a witnessed and notarized affidavit agreeing to this democratic mandate? Or, is he, like the CIA, outside the law?

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