NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Local leaders make recommendations for New York City Department of Education on Thursday to find new ways to address trauma in schools.
They are calling for more “Focus on healing” CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reports on the school after a challenging year and a half.
Keneisha Buckley, a 16-year-old student from Queens, who was chosen to represent his colleagues and speak at a rally outside City Hall.
“Why do students like me have to go to a police officer… the first thing they see… in the school building?” Keneisha said, expressing their concern. “Why do students arrive late to class? Because they have to go through metal detectors”.
Keneisha is part of the Healing-Focused Schools Working Group, which is ask DOE to re-evaluate its approach to school safety and discipline.
The group, which includes parents, teachers, politicians and mental health advocates, wants the city’s schools to undergo a cultural change with a greater focus on mental health.
“Schools are not equipped to serve our children who are suffering,” said Rasheedag Brown Harris, an advocate for healing-centered schools.
Supporters say students are processing COVID trauma, the loss of loved ones, hate crimes, police brutality and the racial justice movement.
“I was shocked at what happened throughout the year. Me and my friends talked about it a lot,” said student Mei-Li McClanahan.
The group is asking the DOE to adopt new safety and discipline policies. For example, they recommend therapy instead of incarceration and more social workers instead of more metal detectors.
“Let’s say a kid gets into a fight and that usually gets suspended,” said Tom Sheppard of the group. “The way it works now is, the school will actually meet that student, meet their parents, find out what’s going on with this child.”
The DOE said it has reviewed the proposals and approved several, such as adding 500 social workers and 100 school psychologists. It said 75,000 staff members had been trained in trauma response and emotional screening machines had been expanded to identify struggling students.
Members of the Healing Focus Working Group said they will closely monitor progress when students return in the fall.