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Kingston task force recommending that city police not be used as SROs

Dec 20, 2020 5:45 am

William J. Kemble is reporting for the Daily Freeman the Kingston Re-envision Public Safety Task Force members have recommended that city police not be used as school resource officers unless written assurance is provided that the officers will have no role in how students are disciplined. The recommendation was discussed during a video conference meeting this week, with task force member Amy Shapiro saying there is a belief that police are too involved with students. “Our black and brown students are disciplined in the Kingston schools disproportionately,” she said. “While black students represent only 15 percent of the population in the Kingston city schools, they represent 32 percent of in-school suspensions, 36 percent of out-of-school suspensions, and 56 percent of expulsions,” Shapiro said. “A major criticism of SROs is they often become involved in routine student discipline.” Superintendent Paul Padalino said the statistics have questionable accuracy, and disputed Shapiro's use of the term expulsion. “Expulsion ... indicates that we moved them from school permanently and that they are no longer entitled to an education,” he said. “We’re not allowed to do that. The most we can do is suspend. We cannot expel someone, we cannot exclude someone who is ... up to the age of 21 from an education.” The district has two officers assigned to Kingston High School and one at Bailey Middle School employed through an agreement with the city police department; the officer at Miller Middle School is employed through a contract with the town of Ulster. Under state law, the SRO is not permitted to serve as a school disciplinarian or as an enforcer of school regulations. School board President James Shaughnessy this week denied police officers have been used at the school for discipline, unless under very limited circumstances and for the safety of students. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.