MANHATTAN (CN) – The New York (City) Police Department inappropriately sends public school students to psychiatric emergency rooms for evaluations after “minor classroom disturbances and disciplinary infractions,” and refuses to reveal its policies on the disturbing tactic, the New York Civil Liberties Union claims in state court. The NYCLU said it was forced to sue when the NYPD blew off its requests for documents.
In January 2008, NYPD officers handcuffed a kindergartner and sent him by ambulance to a hospital after he had a tantrum in the principal’s office – an incident the New York School Chancellor Joel Klein called “troubling,” the NYCLU says.
In July 2008, a Hillcrest High School student was sent to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation “after school safety agents caught him with a cell phone on school premises,” the NYCLU said in announcing its lawsuit.
The civil liberties union said it did not sue the Department of Education because it responded to the NYCLU’s FOIA request. The NYCLU says the Department of Education informed it that it keeps no records on how often cops take students from schools to hospitals.
“Under the Bloomberg administration, extracting public information from both the NYPD and DOE has been an onerous and time-consuming process,” NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman said in a press release. “This lawsuit is about the NYPD, but the DOE has failed, too. There should be no secret about what is happening to our kids in school.”