border control (updated)

Second draft of District 2 zoning plan puts CEC in tough position

Rezoning plan for Lower Manhattan

District 2’s Community Education Council is facing a catch-22: Approve the three rezoning plans presented by the Department of Education last night, with all of their wrinkles, or risk missing a chance to solve crowding problems this year.

After parents criticized a first draft of the plans last month, department officials brought new rezoning maps – one for the Upper East Side, one for the West Village/Chelsea, and one for  Lower Manhattan – to the council’s meeting last night. The plans, which council members had not seen before the meeting, address some problems but introduce others, according to Shino Tanikawa, the council’s president.

The Upper East Side plan was minimally altered, while the West Village/Chelsea plan had significant changes. P.S. 3 and P.S. 41, which currently share a single choice zone, will be split into two separate zones. Moreover, the P.S. 41 zone would include inside of it the future zone lines for the Foundling School, which is set to open in 2014.

The main point of contention involves the Lower Manhattan plan which would send some addresses currently zoned for Tribeca’s P.S. 234 and others currently zoned for P.S. 397, the new Spruce Street School, to P.S. 1 in Chinatown, a far less affluent school with many immigrant students. Last summer, families on P.S. 234’s waiting list resisted when they were offered places at another Chinatown school, P.S. 130.

Some parents said the change would damage the neighborhoods’ sense of identity. But Tricia Joyce, a P.S. 234 parent and a co-chair of the school’s overcrowding committee, said the bigger problem is that P.S. 1 could become overcrowded.

“The proposals are all just overcrowding the schools around us for an insignificant gain,” Joyce said. “Rezoning does not create seats and seats are what we need.”

The DOE added 180 seats to the area last week when it upped the size of a forthcoming school, Peck Slip, but Joyce said that is not enough. Last month, she helped pass a resolution by Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee that rejects the idea of rezoning altogether in favor of building more schools.

Community members will have another chance to share concerns before the council’s vote, but Tanikawa said DOE officials made it clear that the plan is closed to any major revisions, although they would be open to minor adjustments. At this point, the council is not allowed to suggest new zone lines, only approve or reject the lines the department proposes.

Tanikawa said she might seek legal advice about whether the CEC could approve some elements of the proposals while rejecting others.

Without that option, the council is risking waiting a year to rezone if it pushes back too hard on the department’s proposed rezoning. That would leave the Peck Slip school to open next fall in Tweed Courthouse without zoned students, making it essentially an overflow school for students in crowded schools across Lower Manhattan.

“What the DOE has done is created a Peck Slip zone by also putting in a highly unpalatable proposal,” Tanikawa said. “It would make it impossible to build a strong, viable community that way.”

She also said that the council and families in District 2 hadn’t had adequate time to evaluate the department’s proposal, which was not released until the meeting began.

“People didn’t have anything to react to. If we were able to distribute the proposals before the meeting people could have come out and said ‘this is great’ or ‘this is horrible’ or whatever,” Tanikawa said. “We wanted a good feedback session last night, otherwise we were wasting our time and the parents who showed up were wasting their time.”

Rezoning plan for the West Village and Chelsea
Rezoning plan for the Upper East Side

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

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.