Friday, February 5, 2010

Double standard for kids and adults at the DOE

See today's Daily News about how Alexa Gonzalez, a 12-year-old student at JHS 190 in Forest Hills Queens, was put in handcuffs and taken to the precinct house after doodling on her desk. She remains suspended from school and attended court along with her mother yesterday. (photo thanks to the Daily News)

These overly harsh disciplinary tactics in our schools remain distressingly common and were the subject of a NYCLU lawsuit filed last month, charging that the practice of arresting children for minor disciplinary offenses feeds the schools-to-prison pipeline.

DOE officials said that this latest occurrence was regrettable -- and they yet refuse to alter the guidelines under which the police have full sway in our schools.

Last year the NYPD agreed to "test out" velcro handcuffs for children in 22 schools in northern Queens-- and in these schools alone said that restraints would be used only when a child was at risk of hurting himself or others. This was in response to an highly publicized incident in which a five year old child was handcuffed and dragged to a psych ward after a trantrum at PS 81 in Ridgewood Queens.

I guess Forest Hills children who reside in Central Queens -- no less the rest of our million NYC public school students --aren't so lucky.

Meanwhile, this week, Maura Keaney, Bloomberg campaign staffer, was hired to run the DOE's office of external affairs with a $143,000 salary, the same day that the Conflicts of Interest Board announced she had engaged in ethical violations for soliciting campaign contributions from union officials while working on union-related policy issues for Speaker Quinn.

In 2007, Deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf was determined to have violated conflict of interest rules and having lied under oath, with the special investigator's findings suppressed until the report was FOILed the next year. Cerf remained without any sanction in his high-level job, and later was tapped to work for the Bloomberg re-election campaign, along with Maura Keaney.
Keaney will now be in charge, as Cerf was earlier, of the DOE's extensive public relations and lobbying operations.

What did Bloomberg say about Keaney's being hired for a top DOE job on the same day she was cited for conflict-of-interest violations?

“I think,” he said, “she’s going to be spectacular."

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