who should rule the schools

Mystery deepens over state senator's mayoral control report

I spent nearly an hour earlier today trying to cobble together out of several askew, truncated, and fuzzy faxed versions a single shareable copy of State Sen. Martin Dilan’s explosive mayoral control report. I should have spent my time on something else, because Liz Benjamin at the Daily News just posted an impeccable version on her Daily Politics blog; I’m sharing it below the jump. 

Benjamin’s copy of the report, which recommends that lawmakers place substantial checks on mayoral control when the school governance structure expires June 30, is easier to read than the one I just trashed. But the version I was working with looked about as muddled as debate over the report has been since it was first revealed in the Post yesterday. At issue is whose opinions the report contains and whether the report was meant to be released this week at all.

Gail Robinson at the Gotham Gazette wrote yesterday that her copy of the leaked report didn’t indicate anywhere that it was a draft version. But City Hall, which condemned the recommendations, told the Post that it considered the report to be in draft form, and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith’s office said the report doesn’t reflect his position on mayoral control. Later yesterday, Dilan, one of the two chairs of the school governance task force convened by Smith, issued a statement saying that the leaked report represented only his own opinions, not those of his fellow committee members. 

This afternoon, I called the office of State Sen. Shirley Huntley, the task force’s other chair, to find out how her position compared to Dilan’s. A spokeswoman who works in Smith’s office, Selvena Brooks, returned my call on Huntley’s behalf. “The task force is still convening hearings,” Brooks told me. “She feels it’s a bit premature to make recommendations.”

At least one more public hearing is scheduled for this spring, Brooks told me. I’ll add it to the GothamSchools calendar as soon as I can confirm the date and location.

Draft Report- Task Force on New York City School Governance[1]

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.