John Cusick

  • Hosted by NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Venture Justice Fund
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Events over the past few years have brought into the national spotlight a key civil rights issue that is longstanding and deeply rooted: the disproportionate use of police power against people of color. People of color are disproportionately stopped, searched, arrested, and shot by law enforcement as compared to white people. This policing predicament is equally prevalent in NYC schools. Students of color and students with disabilities bear the brunt of unconstitutional and ineffective school policing. The memorandum of understanding between the NYPD and the NYC Department of Education does not include effective mechanisms to ensure that NYPD School Safety Agents—which, standing alone, would be the 5th largest police force in the country—are deterred from or held accountable for violating students’ rights. Despite some recent reforms, NYC communities are in urgent need of meaningful accountability mechanisms to address school-based police misconduct.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Fellowship period, John has:

  • Attended more than fifty meetings with advocates, organizers, and students to brainstorm ways to challenge the school-to-prison pipeline
  • Developed fact sheets and other educational materials about policing in NYC public schools
  • Collaborated with representatives from more than twenty-five organizations on police accountability efforts in schools
  • Filed several New York State Freedom of Information Law requests
  • Drafted know-your-rights material
  • Reviewed data, case law, and reports as part of a legal investigation


Why schools need to abandon facial recognition, not double down on it

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