At least several hundred students are allowed to transfer out of city schools each year because they've been bullied. NY1 has obtained the list of schools seeing the most safety transfers. But as our education reporter, Lindsey Christ, explains, the numbers likely undercount the number of children attending city schools in fear.
At DeWitt Clinton High School, 20 students were granted transfers to other schools in one year because they feared for their safety. 18 students were granted safety transfers from Life Sciences Secondary High School in Manhattan, and 17 from both Abraham Lincoln High in Brooklyn and the Bronx Leadership Academy.
"That's rather alarming. That seems like a very high number that actually got the transfers," said Dawn Yuster of Advocates for Children of New York.
The four schools logged the most safety transfers in the 2015-2016 academic year, according to records obtained by NY1 under a Freedom of Information Law request.
The transfers are granted for students who are scared, mainly due to bullying or gang activity.
One student attends Health Opportunities High School in the Bronx, which saw 14 of its 550 students transfer.
"If you choose to hang out with bad friends, smoke weed, and do other stuff, basically you'll get into trouble," the student said.
But the transfer numbers provided to NY1 do not tell the whole story.
In the 2015-2016 year, students had to produce a police report showing they were the victim of a crime just to request a transfer.
But the city education department told NY1 that it has no records of how many of requests were rejected.
Advocates say the numbers of students granted transfers might be a fraction of those who want one.
"And what about the ones who are left behind, who in are in clearly — it seems to indicate a culture or climate that is not conducive to learning, and not supporting students," Yuster said.
The problem of students attending schools in fear was highlighted in September, when an 18-year-old who said he had been bullied stabbed a classmate to death.
After the killing, officials said they would identify 300 schools that need extra help to prevent such incidents.
But the education department has declined to comment on how those schools are being chosen and whether the number of students transferring out will be a factor.
Soon, the city may be required to be more up front about these numbers. Sources say a lawsuit by parents and a charter school advocacy group, Families for Excellent Schools, is nearing a settlement. That could mean more data for parents and more relief for students seeking a safer environment.