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Dante de Blasio Backs Teen Handcuffed for Wearing Broken Glasses to School

By Leslie Albrecht | March 27, 2015 4:30pm | Updated on March 30, 2015 8:56am
 Students at Park Slope Collegiate say metal detectors make them feel like criminals.
Park Slope Collegiate Students Demand Removal of Metal Detectors
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PARK SLOPE — Mayor Bill de Blasio's son Dante showed up to a rally outside a Park Slope high school where protesters say a 19-year-old student was handcuffed twice and nearly arrested after school safety officers deemed his broken glasses a security threat.

The mayor's son, a senior at Brooklyn Tech, arrived with members of his debate team at Park Slope Collegiate just after the rally ended about noon on Friday. He told DNAinfo New York he was there to support the students but declined to comment further. The Mayor's Office also declined to comment.

Dante and his peers were among the protesters who were upset by Thursday's handcuffing incident, which PTA leaders said was the latest instance of "unfair treatment" by school safety agents.

The incident began before the start of school on Thursday morning, when the student — whose name was not released — was stopped by school safety agents manning the school's metal detectors, according to police and a letter the PTA circulated to the school community Thursday night.

The student was wearing broken glasses held together with a pin, as he had been doing for several weeks, according to the PTA. School safety agents told him the pin was a security risk and confiscated the glasses, the PTA said.

When the student tried to retrieve the glasses, safety agents restrained him, according to school staff who saw the incident. "They brought him to the ground, pinned him down, and handcuffed him,” the PTA said in the letter.

Police confirmed there was a scuffle and that the student was issued a summons, but then released.

Police said the confrontation broke out after the student refused an order from school safety agents to remove the metal pin before entering the school building.

Principal Jill Bloomberg then asked the student to come to her office to write down what had happened, according to the PTA. Bloomberg did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

As the boy was writing his account, NYPD officers who were not part of the school safety team rushed into the principal's office and handcuffed the student again, according to the PTA letter.

He was then placed under arrest "and held in a room by NYPD officers without his parents or any of our staff present," the letter continues.

The student was eventually released and no charges were filed, the PTA wrote.

NYPD spokeswoman Kim Royster said a school safety agent was struck in the eye and sustained minor injuries during the scuffle with the student.

The student was issued a summons for disorderly conduct, Royster said.

The incident was referred to the Internal Affairs Bureau and will be investigated by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, Royster said.

PTA members said the incident was part of a "culture of mistrust" and are calling for the removal of the school's metal detectors.

“Our student did nothing wrong — he was just trying to go to school in the morning, just like all of our students, yours and mine, do every day,”

“It is wrong that our students continue to be forced to start their day in this way, with mistrust and anger instead of with the confidence and enthusiasm that should be welcoming them into their middle and high school building," PTA members wrote in the letter.

Students outside the John Jay building, which houses Collegiate and three other schools, said on Friday that the metal detectors make them feel "like prisoners" in their own school.

"I feel like they're just trying to be mean and bully us," said 16-year-old junior Feyisola Oduyebo, referring to school safety officers. "It's training us to be ready for prison."

The Department of Education did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The handcuffing incident comes five months after Park Slope Collegiate held a town hall meeting where students shared stories of feeling unjustly harassed by school safety agents and police outside the school.

The October forum was prompted by an incident in which a Ninth Street resident witnessed police telling a group of black teens to "get out of the neighborhood."