THE BLOG

Students Tell Mayor de Blasio, Turn Off the Metal Detectors!

02/23/2015 02:25 pm ET | Updated Apr 25, 2015

Petition on Change.org: Put an end to metal detectors in public schools

Dear Mayor de Blasio,

You ordered the police to stop "stop and frisk". Now we want you to end the use of metal detectors to scan students entering public schools.

The majority of students in New York City schools are Black and Latino. Metal detectors in schools contribute to the idea that Black and Latino teenagers should be treated like criminals.

When passing through metal detectors students feel hassled, uncomfortable, annoyed, and that their rights are being violated. Metal detectors in schools break the connection between students, teachers, and school administrators and contribute to a distrust of authority.

Schools should be learning environments where students are prepared for college, careers, citizenship, and adulthood. Metal detectors in schools only prepare students for second-class citizenship and life in prison.

Mayor de Blasio, put an end to metal detectors in public schools.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña recently announced a new school discipline policy designed to limit the suspension of students, the use of police in schools, and the threat of arrest. Child and student advocacy groups have generally been supportive of the new proposals, which are a follow up to a directive ending a citywide ban on cell phones in schools. The cellphone ban was largely enforced in predominately minority schools where students have to pass through metal detectors to enter the building.

So far the Mayor and Schools Chancellor have remained silent on one of the most disturbing carry-overs from their predecessors' misguided school discipline agendas, metal detectors in New York City high schools. It is not clear that anyone at Department of Education either knows exactly what the city's policy on the deployment of metal detectors in schools is or even their locations. They are just there.

The use of metal detectors as an occasional security measure in New York City schools was started during the 1980s and the Koch administration. Mayor David Dinkins expanded the metal detector program in 1992 after the shooting of two students at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn. The current deployment is the result of the Bloomberg administrations "Impact Schools" initiative, which doubled the number of police personnel assigned to specific schools, instituted a zero tolerance policy for rule infractions by students, and started a "roving" metal detector program that included unannounced spot checks of students at different schools.

The last list I located for New York City public school with metal detectors was assembled in 2007 by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). Since 2007 newspaper articles keep referring to the eighty-eight schools on the list. However many of those eighty-eight schools were closed or sub-divided during the Bloomberg years administration and new mini-schools were placed in old buildings. I tried to update the list based on information from the website Insideschools.org, although it is not completely accurate. Some of the mini-schools in metal detector buildings are allowed to use separate non-metal detector entrances, especially when their student population is largely White and Asian. By my count, New York City high school students now attend at least 178 schools where they have to enter the building through permanent metal detectors.

The NYLU has also tried to assemble an updated list based on a 2014 phone survey. The NYCLU estimates that there may be are over 200 New York City public high schools with permanent metal detectors. According to their unpublished survey, over 100,000 students attend these high schools, more than 44% of all New York City high school students. 43% of the high school students who attend schools where they pass through metal detectors on a daily basis are Black, 44% are Latino, 7% are Asian and 5% are White. Based on the NYCLU report and Department of Education data, I calculate that 4% of White students who attend New York City public schools pass through metal detectors on a daily basis, 5% of Asian students, 15% of Latino students and almost one-fourth of Blacks students.

The existence of the metal detectors is a constant irritant to the Black and Latino students who attend these schools, a repeated statement about their second-class educational citizenship, and a reminder of police repression of minority youth and the school-to-prison-pipeline that infects American society. According to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness "When young black men reach a certain age -- whether or not there is incarceration in their families -- they themselves are the target of police stops, interrogations, frisks, often for no reason other than their race. And, of course, this level of harassment sends a message to them, often at an early age: No matter who you are or what you do, you're going to find yourself behind bars one way or the other. This reinforces the sense that prison is part of their destiny, rather than a choice one makes." Schools need to stop the pipeline, not feed into it.

I received an email from Dennis Belen Morales, a Bronx high school student, who has read early Huffington Posts I wrote about the school-to-prison pipeline. Dennis gave me permission to use his name and quote from the email.

Dennis is outraged that he has to enter school through metal detectors every morning and has launched an anti-metal detector petitionaddressed to New York City Mayor de Blasio on change.org.

Dennis wrote: "I am always hassled when entering the school facility, I am always told to remove all metal objects from my pockets and place them in my book bag, to remove my belt, and to place my boots through the machine. While entering the school building I feel like I am entering a penitentiary. I feel as if my high school is preparing me for prison, when it is supposed to be ushering me into adulthood."

Dennis is also furious about the irrationality of the entire system. His school was on the 2007 list of schools with metal detectors and the policy has never changed. But he spoke to the principal of a new small school with a similar student population that is located in its own building. That school has no metal detectors. The principal "started laughing immediately when asked does her school have metal detectors." She replied to him, "What do we look like? The Airport? Our students are already minorities, we don't want them to feel like criminals too."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2011-2012 school year, 2.7% of students in public schools were required to pass through metal detectors on a daily basis and another 5.0% were subject to random metal detector searches. Ninety-two percent of America's students managed to enter school without passing through airport like security

Meanwhile, according to a fact sheet prepared by the Dignity in Schools campaign based on a NYCLU report, the 100,000 New York City students who pass through permanent metal detectors on a daily basis attend schools where the city spends at least $2,000 per pupil less than at the average New York City school. Students who attend high schools with metal detectors had a 48% chance of being suspended from school than students who attend other high schools and are twice as likely to be involved in incidents with police and School Safety agents while in school. The NYCLU argues that that the metal detectors tend to "criminalize" kids in schools mainly populated by minorities. Advocacy director Udi Ofer demanded that the "Metal detectors should be used as a last resort, and for a limited time."

I urge readers to support the student campaign sign the anti-metal detector petition.

This list of New York City Schools located in buildings where daily metal detectors are in use on a daily basis. It is based on the original NYCLU list and updated with information from Insideschools and The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.

Surviving Large Schools with Metal Detectors
Abraham Lincoln High School
Hillcrest High School
James Madison High School
John Adams High School
Newtown High School
Sheepshead Bay High School

Large School sharing with Small Schools with Metal Detectors
DeWitt Clinton High School
World View High School
Bronx Collaborative High School

Sub-divided schools with Metal Detectors
Erasmus Hall Educational Campus
Academy for College Preparation and Career Exploration: A College Board School
Academy of Hospitality and Tourism
High School for Service and Learning
High School for Youth and Community Development
Science, Technology and Research Early College

Bushwick Educational Campus
Academy of Urban Planning
Bushwick School for Social Justice
Brooklyn School for Math and Research
Academy of Urban Planning
Academy for Environmental Leadership

Adlai Stevenson Educational Campus
Bronx Guild High School
Pablo Neruda Academy
Bronx Compass
Bronx Bridges High School
Bronx Community High School
Millennium Art Academy
Gateway Academy for Environmental Research and Technology
School for Community Research and Learning
Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Academy: A College Board School

Christopher Columbus High School Complex
Astor Collegiate High School
Collegiate Institute for Math and Science
High School Of Language And Innovation
Pelham Preparatory Academy
Bronxdale High School
Global Enterprise High School (clo 2014)

William Howard Taft Educational Campus
Bronx Expeditionary Learning High School
Bronx High School of Business
Bronx High School of Medical Science
Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications
Bronx Collegiate Academy
DreamYard Prep
Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young men
Claremont International High School

Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus
Belmont Preparatory High School
Bronx High School for Law and Community Service
Fordham Leadership Academy For Business and Technology
Fordham High School for the Arts
Kappa International High School
West Bronx Academy for the Future

Evander Childs Educational Complex
Bronx Academy of Health Careers
Bronx Aerospace High School
Bronx High School for Writing & Communication Arts
High School of Computers and Technology
Bronx Lab School
High School for Contemporary Arts

Campus Magnet High School Building (Andrew Jackson)
Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship Magnet HS
Math, Science Research and Technology Magnet High School
Law, Government and Community Service High School
Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School
Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights

Canarsie Educational Campus
High School for Medical Professions
Urban Action Academy
High School of Innovation in Advertising and Media

Beach Channel Educational Campus
Channel View School for Research
Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Stability
Rockaway Collegiate High School

Far Rockaway Educational Complex
Frederick Douglass Academy VI
Academy of Medical Technology
Queens High School for Information, Research, and Technology

Franklin K. Lane Campus
Cypress Hills Collegiate
Multicultural High School
Academy of Innovative Technology
Brooklyn Lab School

Walton Educational Complex
Discovery High School
Kingsbridge International High School
Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music
International School for Liberal Arts
High School for Teaching and the Profession

Graphic Communication Arts Educational Complex
Urban Assembly Gateway School of Technology
Business of Sports School
Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School
Success Academy Hell's Kitchen Charter School

Harry S. Truman Educational Complex
High School for Contemporary Arts
High School for Law and Public Service
High School For Media & Communications
High School for Teaching and the Professions
High School of Arts and Technology
High School of Arts, Imagination and Inquiry
High School of Hospitality Management
High School of Medical Science

Lafayette Educational Complex
Kingsborough Early College School
International High School at Lafayette
Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders
High School of Sports Management
Life Academy Hugh School for Film and Music

Jamaica Educational Complex
Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences
Queens Collegiate
Hillside Arts and Letters Academy
High School for Community Leadership

John F. Kennedy Educational Complex
Marble Hill School for International Studies,
Bronx Theatre High School
Bronx School of Law and Finance
English Language Learners and International Support Preparatory Academy
Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy
New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science
New Visions Charter High School for Humanities

Brandeis High School Campus
Frank McCourt High School
Global Learning Collaborative
Innovation Diploma Plus
Urban Assembly for Green Careers
Upper West Success Academy

Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex
Manhattan/Hunter College High School of Science
High School for Arts, Imagination, and Inquiry
High School of the Arts and Technology
Urban Assembly School for Media Studies
Manhattan Theatre Lab High School
High School for Law, Advocacy & Community Justice

Monroe High School Educational Campus
Monroe Academy for Business & Law
High School for World Cultures
Pan American International School
Metropolitan Soundview High School
Monroe Academy for Visual Arts & Design
The Cinema School,
Mott Hall V

Norman Thomas Educational Complex
Unity Center for Urban Technologies
Manhattan Academy for Arts & Language
Murray Hill Academy

Paul Robeson Educational Campus
Pathways in Technology Early College High School
Academy for Health Careers

Samuel J. Tilden Educational Campus
Cultural Academy for the Arts and Sciences
Kurt Hahn
It Takes a Village Academy

South Shore Educational Complex
Victory Collegiate High School
Brooklyn Generation School
Brooklyn Theater Arts High School
Brooklyn Bridge Academy
Academy for Conservation and Environment

Springfield Gardens Educational Campus
Excelsior Preparatory High School
George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences
Queens Preparatory Academy
Preparatory Academy for Writers

John Jay Educational Campus
Millennium Brooklyn High School
Secondary School for Journalism
Secondary School for Law
Park Slope Collegiate

Thomas Jefferson Educational Campus
Performing Arts and Technology High School
FDNY High School for Fire and Life safety
High School for Civil Rights
World Academy for Total Community Health

Washington Irving Campus
Gramercy Arts
High School for Language and Diplomacy
International High School at Union Square
Academy for Software Engineering
Union Square Academy for Health Sciences
Success Academy Union Square

Park West Complex
Facing History School
Food and Finance High School
High School of Hospitality Management
Manhattan Bridges High School
Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction

Harry Van Arsdale (Eli Whitney) Educational Complex
Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design
Brooklyn Prep
Williamsburg Prep

Vocational Schools that were not closed with Metal Detectors

George Westinghouse High School
City Polytechnic High School of Engineering, Architecture and Technology

Grace Dodge Vocational High School
Crotona International High School
High School for Energy and Technology

Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School
New Vision Charter School for the Humanities II

Automotive Career and Technical Education High School

Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School
Bronx Haven
Bronx Design and Construction

William H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School

Other Schools with Metal Detectors
EBC High School for Public Service (Bushwick)
I.S. 313 School of Leadership Development(Bronx)
Jeffrey M. Rapport School for Career Development
Foreign Language Academy of Global Studies. (FLAGS)