WhitePaper on Reimagining School Safety
1 March 2021
The Office of the Public Advocate sees a vision for schools and community safety that centers New York City’s children and families—schools that heal and address trauma, and that center on de-escalation and supportive resources. We know the main drivers of safety in communities are access to quality and wellresourced education, healthcare, and housing. Schools need to address the ways that those are accessed to reimagine public safety in our schools. This vision of public safety in our schools does not rely on law enforcement except only in the most extreme circumstances. Black and Latinx children are not inherently more criminal or predisposed to committing crimes. We need schools that not only send a clear message but that proactively and actively reaffirm the conditions, behaviors, and environments that we know truly protect and ensure the mental and physical wellness of our children. The role of teachers and staff in our schools needs to revolve around providing education and providing students with the tools to address trauma, not paving the way for more trauma to be perpetuated by those working in our schools. The call for police-free schools not only requires that police infrastructure, culture, and practice be removed from schools, but also that this system be replaced by youth-, parent-, and educator-led solutions that center liberation and restorative justice. It is in fact a proposed system meant to maintain safety.