A few of our stories and columns are now in front of the paywall. We at The Chief-Leader remain committed to independent reporting on labor and civil service. It's been our mission since 1897. You can have a hand in ensuring that our reporting remains relevant in the decades to come. Consider supporting The Chief, which you can do for as little as $3.20 a month.
The Adams administration has given no reason for its sudden cancellation of a class of 250 school safety agents, and the union that represents the agents blasted the city for failing to explain its decision to scrap the cohort.
The prospective safety agents learned that their academy training would be canceled the same morning the class was set to commence, according to Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. He called it “irresponsible” for the administration to cancel the class last minute, and without any explanation.
During a press conference on the city reaching a tentative contract agreement with the city’s sanitation union, Mayor Eric Adams deferred comment on the cancellation of the class, saying he would answer questions on the topic on Tuesday. City Hall, the NYPD and the Department of Education did not respond to inquiry about why the city decided to suddenly scrap the class.
“The Adams administration should give us an explanation as to why the class was canceled. They owe everyone an explanation. They had enough time to come forward,” Floyd told The Chief later that afternoon on Friday.
School safety agents must undergo 17 weeks of training before they can be deployed to schools. The canceled class, first reported by The Daily News, comes as the city has implemented a hiring freeze. Positions that support public health, public safety and revenue generation were exempted from the freeze, but it is unclear if school safety agents qualified under those exemptions.
Floyd said he was concerned that the cancellation could exacerbate the shortage of school safety agents. There are currently 3,930 school safety agents working in the city’s public schools, 1,000 fewer than there were pre-pandemic, NYPD officials testified during a Wednesday City Council hearing on safety in schools. The current number of school safety agents is also under their budgeted headcount: there are 301 vacant positions.
Floyd said the city has generally hired two classes of 250 school safety agents each year, but the pace of hiring hasn’t kept pace with attrition. The school safety division has typically lost at least 500 — and as many as 1,000 — school safety agents each year to retirements and attrition, he stated.
“It’s short-sighted because you don’t know who’s retiring. They should at least do a study to see who’s going to retire,” Floyd said, adding that at least 250 agents could retire by the end of December.
The union leader noted that the city could still save money onboarding new school safety agents because they will earn less than departing employees who have been on the job for a number of years. The agents start at $36,955, and reach top pay after five years.
The canceled class comes at a time when city public schools are ramping up safety efforts by implementing a door-locking camera system. Agents are being trained in this new system, which is aimed at preventing mass tragedies such as school shootings. They will also be equipped with bullet-resistant vests.
Floyd also expressed concerns about the impact the short-staffing could have on safety within schools. Major felony crimes in public schools rose 16 percent between Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, according to the Mayor’s Management Report, which the city said paralleled pre-pandemic levels. School safety agents also seized nearly 7,000 weapons last school year, including 15 guns, according to the union.
“You’re going to be faced with a crisis in schools,” Floyd said during the phone interview.
This isn’t the first class of school safety agents to be canceled in recent years: in 2021, the City Council ended up scrapping a 475-person class as part of the city budget deal after advocates for police-free schools opposed the hiring plans.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here