“School safety officers do not have any knowledge of whether a student has an IEP,” said Johanna Miller, advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “We don’t advocate that the DOE shares these records with the cops, but there’s a gap in how the adults in the building can protect students with special education needs.”
Miller said another issue at hand is the high disciplinary rates for students with special needs.
The NYCLU has done comprehensive reporting using statistics obtained from the DOE, through Freedom of Information Act requests, and independent agencies.
“The most blunt statistic is that students with IEPs are suspended twice as often as general education students,” Miller said. “Black students with IEPs represent 14 percent of suspensions and only 6 percent of enrollment.”
The city’s reform initiative lists 13 IEP-classifiable disabilities, including deafness, emotional disturbance, learning disabilities and autism. The IEPs — which are assessed by an IEP team, the teacher, the student’s parent, and any related service provider — are readdressed at least once a year.
“Many types of misbehaviors can result in a zero-tolerance response, meaning the student is actually pushed out of the system rather than disciplined within the educational system,” Miller said of the suspensions. She added that, since 2011, the DOE has been required to provide data on suspensions and arrests twice a year, and the NYPD to provide numbers four times a year. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.