The Justice Department says that too many students, especially black students, are being funneled into the so-called schools-to-prison pipeline, starting with arrests for seemingly minor infractions in school, and city advocates and the mayor say actions will be taken to correct it. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Jacqueline Wayans is speaking out for the first time about her son's arrest in school after a fight when he was in junior high.
"He was led out of the school in cuffs, and despite of the principal and school administration standing there saying 'You've got the wrong kid, don't do this, you're making a mistake,' they were actually told, 'Stand down or else you'll get arrested.'"
Despite working for insideschools.org, a nonprofit project at The New School that reports on school issues, Wayans said she didn't know what to do. She's praising the U.S. Justice and Education departments for saying last week that too many students are being brought to police precincts instead of the principal's office, and that it has to stop.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has been issuing reports about it for years, and points to the case of a 13-year-old arrested in 2007.
"The story of Chelsea Frasier, who was arrested for writing on her desk, and she's not the only one who was arrested for writing on the desk or on the wall, as stories came out for kids being arrested for cursing a school safety officer," said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "The powers that be have begun to understand that yes, we have a problem."
The numbers are coming down. In the 2012-13 school year, 579 city public school students were arrested, down from 882 the year before. In 2012-13, more than 53,000 students were suspended, a decrease of 23 percent from 70,000 in the 2011-12 school year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he knows there's still a problem, and black Americans are hit the hardest.
"I think the Department of Justice was right. We've had, clearly, too many children of color treated differently in the disciplinary process," he said. "We're going to be making a number of changes. I'm going to sit down with Chancellor Fariña and talk about the kind of reforms we have to make."
He said that some reforms will be based on suggestions made by the Justice Department.