About 5,000 New York City school safety agents (SSAs) will be transferred from the supervision of the New York police department to the Department of Education (DOE) in June 2022, a move welcomed by advocates as a de-escalation of a system that is often seen as imposing harsh punishments that disproportionately target students of color, reports The Guardian. Advocates hope that this transfer of power will encourage the use of restorative justice – the practice of resolving conflict through communication and collaboration rather than by punishments such as suspensions and detentions.
New York City Department of Education’s deputy press secretary Nathaniel Styer said SSAs began training in conflict resolution, mediation, restorative justice and implicit bias with the DOE this past spring and any new agents will undergo similar training. But Tiffany Cabán, a democratic socialist projected to win a seat on the city council, said the role of school safety agents or any kind of police in schools, should be dissolved altogether. “We see it all the time. We say, ‘We just need to get police officers more training in mental health response,’ ” said Cabán. “No, we need to make sure we have dedicated, skilled workers and not retrofit that job. There’s no place for that in a school.”