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PR- 170-04
June 29, 2004


New School Safety Initiatives Reduce Criminal Incidents and Major Felony Crime at Impact Schools and Produce Stronger Management and Accountability Systems, and Safer Learning Environments

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today presented an end-of-school-year progress report on the school safety plan launched on January 5, 2004.  The School Safety Initiative focused on problem schools and disruptive students at sixteen "Impact Schools" that accounted for a disproportionate amount of crime.  The goal of the initiative was to establish a climate of order and safety by intensifying enforcement against low-level crime and disorder, rigorously enforcing the New York City Discipline Code, and correcting school conditions that are conducive to disorder.  The initiative led to a 10% reduction of criminal incidents including a 48% drop in major felony crimes per day at the first twelve impact schools. Criminal incidents and major crime per day also both dropped 66% in four schools added in April.  Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt, Commanding Officer of the School Safety Division Assistant Chief Gerald Nelson and Senior Counselor for School Intervention and Development Rose Albanese-DePinto also attended the announcement at Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, one of the Impact Schools.

"If students are afraid to go to school or in an environment filled with disorder, they simply can not learn," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "Six months ago we targeted schools with the worst safety records and began the process of turning them into orderly places of learning.  Since establishing Impact Schools, we've driven down crime, curbed disruptive behavior and improved the environment for the great majority of students who want and deserve a chance to learn."

"Safety and a secure environment are the most fundamental requirements for any school, so the school safety initiatives are a critical component of our Children First reform agenda to fix our schools, said Chancellor Klein.  "We have had terrific support and cooperation from the NYPD, and the results are encouraging.  It will take time, but as we are proving in other areas, it is possible to turn New York City's public schools around."

"The Police Department is taking the same approach to schools as it has with neighborhoods; putting the resources where they are needed and where we can make a difference," said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

In January, twelve schools were chosen to be the initial focus of this initiative based upon an analysis of crime, school performance and disciplinary data, combined with input from the teachers and principals unions.  These twelve "Impact Schools" - comprising less than 1% of all City schools - accounted for 13% of major crimes, 23% of robberies, and 18% of felony assaults during the Fall 2003 semester.  In April, a second group of four schools was selected based upon the same criteria.  Of the sixteen schools, fourteen are high schools - seven in Brooklyn, five in the Bronx, one in Manhattan and one in Queens - and two are middle schools in the Bronx.  Borrowing a page from the NYPD's "Operation Impact" for neighborhoods, Impact Schools were the focus of increased police presence with increased attention to relatively minor offenses that can set the stage for more serious disruption.

Additional components of the Initiative included joint DOE and NYPD training for school safety agents, the placement of DOE liaisons in Family Courts, training of 51 teachers and 240 students in conflict resolution and peer mediation and setting up a 311 safety hotline.

Heightened Low-Level Enforcement

The initiative brought to Impact Schools the immediate assignment of additional school safety agents and police officers, along with a 150-member mobile School Safety Task Force made up of uniformed police officers and supervisors.  The combination of the additional personnel and intense focus on low-level disorder led to a dramatic increase in enforcement activity. At the first twelve Impact schools, incident reports per day for non-criminal behavior like disorderly conduct nearly doubled, increasing 92% during the Impact period, compared to the two months before the Impact program began.

This sustained level of enforcement led to a substantial reduction in criminal activity at the Impact Schools. From January 5th through June 15th, the number of criminal incidents per day at the first twelve Impact schools fell 10% and the number of major crimes per day fell 48%, compared to the two-month period before Impact started.  At the first twelve Impact schools, robberies fell 48%, grand larcenies fell 64%, felony assaults fell 43% and weapons confiscated fell 55%.  At the second group of Impact Schools, designated in April, the number of criminal incidents per day and the number of major crimes per day both dropped 66%, compared to the months immediately before Impact began at these schools.

Rigorous Enforcement of the New York City Discipline Code

At the Impact Schools, school personnel focused on responding to even the most minor infractions of the New York City Discipline Code. As a result of this rigorous enforcement effort, the average daily number of principal suspensions at the first twelve Impact Schools doubled and the average daily number of superintendent suspensions rose 12%, compared to the two months before Impact began.  At the second group of Impact Schools, the average daily number of principal suspensions rose 63% and the average daily number of superintendent suspensions rose 48%.  In all, 494 students were removed during their suspensions to alternative school settings or off-site suspension centers.  Another 54 students - those who committed the most serious offenses - were either placed in Second Opportunity Schools for a year or expelled.

Establishing a climate of order and removing disruptive and violent students to more appropriate settings paid immediate dividends.  At the first twelve Impact schools, the average daily number of infractions in the most serious category in the Discipline Code dropped from a peak of 3.8 in January to under 2 in June.

To improve its ability to respond to serious misbehavior and chronically disruptive students, DOE overhauled the suspension hearing process and increased the number of alternative placements for suspended students.  It opened four new hearing offices, hired additional hearing officers and ensured that hearings would be scheduled within five days of each suspension.  DOE also established pre-hearing After-School Suspension sites in all regions and opened five new Off-Site Suspension Centers with improved academic and behavioral programs in partnership with community-based organizations.  In addition to the sixteen existing New Beginnings programs, DOE opened four additional New Beginnings programs for students with early warning signs of future trouble, including the first two for middle school students.

Comprehensive Assessments by Safety Intervention Teams

In January, School Safety Intervention Teams, composed of representatives from the Department of Education and the NYPD, completed comprehensive assessments of conditions at each Impact School using a best practices checklist.  The teams focused on conditions critical to the school environment such as entry and exit procedures, hallway conditions, Discipline Code enforcement, instructional environment, passing between classes, cafeteria environment, facilities, and detention and suspension rooms. The outcomes of these assessments were then shared with regional superintendents, other senior DOE staff, and principals who were charged with creating action plans in partnership with UFT representatives, parents and students to address the conditions observed by the Teams.  As part of the intervention process, over 100 visits were made to the Impact Schools from January to June. 

The follow-up visits to the first twelve Impact Schools showed dramatic improvement.  The percentage of conditions not meeting best practices standards dropped from 90% at the first Intervention Team visits to 37% at the most recent follow-up visits.  Safety Intervention Teams identified marked improvements in qualitative safety conditions over the past six months, including improvements in entry procedures, hallway conditions, cafeteria conditions and facilities conditions. For example:

  • Formerly chaotic hall passing has improved appreciably at all of the Impact Schools.  For instance, at the initial visit to Evander Childs, it took 19 minutes to clear halls after the bell; on a subsequent visit it had fallen to less than 4 minutes.

  • All Impact Schools using scanning have significantly more efficient processes.  At the first visit to Washington Irving, students waited in line for over 5 minutes to be scanned; at the most recent visit, each student sailed through the process in only 5-7 seconds.

  • Every Impact School has established a uniform hall pass system.  For instance, at Franklin K. Lane, hand-written, paper hall passes have been replaced with official color-coded passes marked with the teacher's name.  Violators of the student pass policy are addressed by deans in an expeditious and appropriate fashion, and students are more cooperative when asked to comply with school rules.

  • At the initial visits to the Impact Schools, detention centers to respond to low-level infractions were either nonexistent or deficient.  Now, almost every Impact School has a detention center that provides instructional and guidance support.

"Through this multi-pronged initiative we have been able to reduce crime and disorder and make our schools safer," Mayor Bloomberg added.  "We have not yet achieved victory, but we've shown that victory is achievable."


Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958

Stephen Morello   (DOE)
(212) 374-5141

Paul Browne   (NYPD)
(646) 610-6700

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