When the Police Rule School Corridors
Last month, we once again faced a most disturbing issue regarding our members and the New York Police Department. It is unfortunate that the Department of Education and NYPD have failed to develop the protocols necessary for school leaders—Principals and Assistant Principals—to effectively coexist with school safety agents.
We all want safe and secure schools and do not question the need for some type of school security as much to protect our students from crazed individuals as to maintain an appropriate environment for learning. But it is imperative that someone be in control of a school. And it is imperative that we work this out now before another Principal is arrested and embarrassed in front of his students, parents and community for doing his job – protecting his students.
The Principal has traditionally been in charge of his building, and in this time of increased accountability is, in fact, charged with that responsibility. If school leaders are accountable, and will pay a price if found to be derelict in their duties, then I strongly urge the Chancellor to talk to us now about how school safety agents perform their duties, how schools are staffed, and how SSA are evaluated. Principals must be accorded respect. We should not have to demand it; it should come with the responsibility invested in the position. School safety agents should not be arresting Principals. They work with the Principal in keeping the school a safe place. The Principal cannot perform his mandated responsibility if he has to worry about being handcuffed and dragged from a building.
I have begun talks with the DOE’s Bureau of School Safety and have the firm belief that we will be able to work through our issues. These conversations will just be part of the collaborative relationship CSA is developing with the DOE, a relationship I have faith will continue to grow for the benefit of our children, our schools and the people who run those schools.
An Innovative Plan
In that spirit of continued collaboration, the DOE and the Mayor announced the most innovative plan, perhaps in the nation, for teacher pay incentives. The availability of additional financial awards or incentives for schools and teachers has been cheered and denounced. At CSA, we have already had this discussion, and the concept of pay for performance is, and has been for some time, fact for CSA members. I look forward to negotiations with the DOE to determine what additional compensation is available for supervisors in high-need schools. We will continue to explore how we can improve the program, as well as how to develop a mutually-agreed upon instrument through which to evaluate our members. For now, the Principals Performance Review remains in effect, and remains the reviewing instrument to date.
The discussion continues with the DOE on how to effectively assist and support our members and their schools. There needs to be genuine and effective support given to schools. No longer can the DOE or anyone else decide that our members can sail alone on the choppy waters of this system.#