Feud escalates between school safety union chief, Jumaane Williams

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The gloves have come off in the feud between Jumaane Williams and the head of the school safety agents union.

Union chief Greg Floyd — who is furious that Williams has accused his members of abusing students and is trying to boot them from schools — brought up Williams’ arrest record Wednesday.

“Jumaane Williams is accusing these people of what he himself did,” Floyd said. “That is what’s happening here.”

Tensions first sparked during a City Council hearing last month when Williams said “many students report verbal, physical, and sexual abuse that have been committed at the hands of school safety agents.”

Floyd has since asked for documentation of those claims — and broached Williams’s 2009 arrest after a fight with a former girlfriend.

“Let’s unseal that record and see what happened,” he said Wednesday.

Williams has said that he was detained by police after a verbal argument with a former partner. The charges were dropped and the arrest record sealed.

The Public Advocate defended his positions on school safety Tuesday.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has pushed for more school guidance counselors and social workers in favor of school safety agents.
James Messerschmidt

“As I’ve said multiple times, including in our new policy paper, and as Mr. Floyd knows, there have been numerous press reports in recent years about alleged misconduct– I have not made any new accusations,” he said.

Williams and others argue that the agents — who are unarmed but operate under the auspices of the NYPD — should not be in schools in their current form.

The Public Advocate — a graduate of the city school system — contends that they create a hostile and criminalized atmosphere for students.

Williams, who also wants metal detectors removed on the same grounds, has pushed to phase out the agents while bolstering the number of guidance counselors and social workers.

Floyd stressed Wednesday that his members are 90 percent African-American and Hispanic and 70 percent women.

“Here are the facts,” he said. “The majority of school safety agents are Black and brown people. We can assume that the majority of social workers will be white. One has to wonder about the overall goal here. We want to put the facts out there and have people think for themselves.”

In calling for a new school safety structure, Williams has stressed that he didn’t want to paint all agents “with the same brush” and that he respected many of them.

He has also said that any agents who lose their current position should be given new jobs.

“We need to ensure they would receive jobs honoring the same salary, and time working for the City,” he said in his school security proposal. “If we remove SSAs from our schools, the City should commit to providing job placements elsewhere.”

Williams said Wednesday that he hopes to transition school security in a manner that ultimately benefits students.

“That’s why I’m interested in working with Mr. Floyd to develop and implement comprehensive school safety strategies centered on restorative justice, and to ensure a just transition to that model,” he said.

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