The NYPD must remain in charge of school safety unless parents want mayhem to rule the halls of education, the head of the school safety agents’ union warned Wednesday.
Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd said recent calls to put the city’s 5,036 unarmed safety agents under the authority of the Department of Education amounted to a recipe for disaster.
“I understand what’s going on in this country, however, you cannot have anarchy,” he said.
Floyd said he recalled how “crime was rampant in the schools” — with students “bringing in box cutters and knives” — before the NYPD was put in charge of school safety in December 1998 at the direction of then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Before that, the former Board of Education hired what were then known as “school safety officers,” many of whom were eventually found to be unfit for their jobs, Floyd said.
“We had gang members, we had sexual predators, we had people with criminal backgrounds who were not discovered until they were working there for 10 years or more,” he said.
Hundreds wound up assigned to empty classrooms where they awaited disciplinary hearings so they could be fired, Floyd said.
“When I was hired and went into those rooms in 1994, I saw some of the most unsavory people I had ever seen working for the city of New York,” he said.
“There was no exam. There were really no requirements.”
Since the NYPD took over and began hiring and employing the school safety agents, applicants must pass civil service exams, undergo background checks and receive training at the Police Academy, he said.
In the wake of the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, hundreds of city school administrators and supervisors have signed an open letter urging the DOE to cut its ties with the NYPD, The Post reported last week.
Instead, the letter says, the DOE should retrain the school safety agents as “school peace officers” focused on “de-escalation, mediation and restorative practices.”
Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz, whose charter schools are located in city-owned school buildings, also favors giving the DOE authority over the safety agents, saying that “we should start with the presumption that our students are children in need of help, not criminals in need of policing.”
Matt Gonzales, director of the Integration and Innovation Initiative at NYU’s Metro Center, has said that the NYPD “really doesn’t have any business inside New York public schools.”
“The idea that black and brown kids are going to walk back into a school where the NYPD is standing there — that level of threat is unacceptable,” Gonzales told The City website.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has said that he shared the vision of “just, welcoming, anti-racist schools for our students” and that he looked forward to meeting with the staffers who signed the open letter.
During a Wednesday morning briefing, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that “I personally believe that the better approach is to continue what we have but improve it, reform it.”
“My honest feeling is that the safety issues are not resolved in schools at this point and school safety is necessary in its current form to keep ensuring the safety of our kids and personnel,” he said.
Additional reporting by Julia Marsh
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