Much as she advised in the wake of a grand jury decision about Eric Garner’s death earlier this month, Chancellor Carmen Fariña wants schools to find a way to use the tragic deaths of two police officers in Brooklyn on Saturday as learning opportunities.
Rafael Ramos, one of the officers killed, was a school safety officer on Staten Island — at the Rocco Laurie School, named for a policeman murdered in a similar incident in 1972 — until 2012.
In a letter to staff Monday, Fariña shared a recollection from that school’s principal, Peter Macellari, and thanked school safety officers for their role in keeping schools safe. She also said Saturday’s tragedy should bring about a dialogue in school communities about “what positive relationships with law enforcement look like.”
Advocates have long argued that safety agents too often strike an unnecessarily combative tone when it comes to school discipline, and some have pushed to involve communities in training the agents. Fariña has promised to revamp the city’s discipline policies, although she has not yet made any changes.
The full letter is below:
The tragic shooting deaths of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu over the weekend have shaken the City and are having an impact on our school communities as well. As you may have read, Officer Ramos served as a school safety agent at the Rocco Laurie School on Staten Island for three years until becoming a police officer in 2012.
As educators, it is our job to educate and build community; school safety agents are integral to both of these missions. I want us to take these officers’ senseless deaths as an opportunity to foster dialogue and engage in conversations with community members, including our local precinct officers. Let us model what positive relationships with law enforcement look like.
Peter Macellari, the principal of Rocco Laurie, knows the good safety agents do in our schools and keenly feels Officer Ramos’ loss. “He will always be remembered by my staff as being a gentleman,” Principal Macellari said this morning. “He was a quiet man who came to work each day with a smile on his face. The students adored him because he always treated them with respect and never over-reacted to anything. He always talked about his sons and his dream of becoming a member of the NYPD. Needless to say, in his time as a member of the Rocco Laurie family, he touched all of our lives.”
Principal Macellari and his staff held a moment of silence this morning for both officers killed in the line of duty. Let us all take a moment to reflect on these officers’ sacrifice and embrace the season’s message of peace and good will to all people.
Thank you for ensuring that our students learn in safe, secure classrooms—and for fostering positive relationships between our students and the public servants who put their lives on the line for our children, and all of us.