The week's news round-up: More city schools to face closure

News from this week:

  • City schools could face state-enforced closure by 2015. (GothamSchoolsPostSchoolbookWSJNews)
  • Under pressure, the city revised its suspension policies. (GothamSchools, News, Times, Schoolbook)
  • The new policies come as state records reveal a spike in school violence across the state. (Post)
  • Record-keeping of the data has been spotty, in one instance falsely reporting a rise in alcohol use. (Post)
  • Students of a large Bronx campus say security at their high schools are excessive. (Riverdale Press)
  • More families are opting to homeschool their children instead of sending them to city schools. (DNAInfo)
  • Many supplies that children bring back to school are loaded with toxins found in banned toys. (News)
  • A years-old hiring restriction in place to save money has been lifted for six subjects. (GothamSchools)
  • Prospect Heights locals have raised concerns about a new school for suspended students. (Schoolbook)
  • Parents of the controversially-sited Cobble Hill Success were all smiles on the school’s first day. (News)
  • Union-led attacks on StudentsFirstNY continued with a rally outside the group’s offices. (Crain’s NY)
  • For the first time in seven years, principals rated fewer teachers ‘unsatisfactory’. (GothamSchools)
  • The News praised NYSUT for its “rational” endorsement of a state Senator backed by StudentsFirstNY.
  • New Jersey teachers and principals were suspended for cheating on standardized tests. (NBC NY)

Last week on GothamSchools:

  • The state teachers union endorsed a candidate who took StudentsFirstNY money. (Friday)
  • In record time, August’s PEP meeting ended with a debate on testing and contracts. (Thursday)
  • A former network leader and current principal was fined $4,000 for nepotism. (Wednesday)
  • Mayoral candidates stayed mum while other politicians rejected StudentsFirstNY. (Tuesday)
  • When monitors visited schools on exam day, test scores plummeted, an analysis found.  (Wednesday)
  • Walcott blamed the budget for why the city was reducing the test security measure. (Wednesday)
  • ‘Turnaround’ schools learned they would receive a portion of their promised funding. (Tuesday)
  • A charter school applicant seeks space on Governor’s Island to ease co-location issues. (Monday)


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.