NYC Settles School Safety Agent Abuse Lawsuit

NEW YORK
Published: November 10, 2009

New York City has agreed to pay $55,500 to settle a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a Queens 12th grader who was injured by a school safety agent last year.

According to a New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) press release, Stephen Cruz suffered a lacerated forehead on Sept. 19, 2008 at Robert F. Kennedy High School in Flushing when a school safety agent (SSA), without provocation, allegedly kicked open a restroom stall that Stephen was using. The door struck Stephen’s face, cutting him below his hairline. The SSA, an NYPD employee, walked away without offering to help the bleeding student. Stephen’s family sued the city on Nov. 20, 2008. That same day, the NYCLU filed a complaint against the SSA with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau on the student’s behalf.

The school’s principal apparently indicated to the family that he had no authority to discipline the SSA. The principal could not even investigate the incident beyond submitting an online report to the DOE.

The settlement was announced by the NYCLU on Nov. 5.  The organization is calling for the city council take action to ensure other students don’t experience similar treatment.

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The city council is considering passage of the Student Safety Act, which is legislation designed to bring transparency to police activity in the city’s public schools. The proposed law, which is cosponsored by 33 of 50 council members, would require quarterly reporting by the Department of Education and NYPD to the city council on a wide range of school safety issues, including incidents involving the arrest, expulsion or suspension of students, and a breakdown of information by students’ race, sex and disability status.

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Information from a Nov. 5 NYCLU press release.

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