Back in February, high school students held a rally to protest a “jail-like” disciplinary environment in their schools, and advocates released sobering data on student arrests: Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 30 last year, police arrested 279 students — or the equivalent of five student arrests per school day during the 55 days of instruction. Of those arrested — the only portion for which racial data is available — 93.5 percent were African-American or Latino.
The numbers are even higher in the New York Civil Liberties Union’s latest report: the statistics for the months of January to March show that 327 students were arrested, which comes out to an average of more than five on each of the 58 school days. Another 555 were issued summonses, which bring the daily average number of students either fined or arrested to 15 a day. The percentage of those arrested that were African-American or Latino rose to over 96 percent. El Diario/La Prensa ran a Spanish translation of the NYCLU press release.
“The number of arrests and summonses is an outrage. These numbers make us feel like the NYPD is targeting black and Latino students, and that’s just plain wrong,” said Joseph Duarte, a member of Dignity in Schools Campaign-NY and a 15-year-old student at Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx. “We go to school to get an education, not arrested.”
Though the data do not describe the facts of the incidents, when viewed against the backdrop of the many accounts of student arrests for offenses like writing on a desk, cursing, and pushing or shoving, all indicators point to police personnel becoming involved in disciplinary infractions that should be handled by educators.