1. Revise the nyc school discipline code
Chancellor Carranza and the NYC Department of Education will propose a revised discipline code in the Spring of 2019, we demand that it include the elimination of any suspension exceeding 20 days.
2. fund de-escalation training for all schools
Mayor DeBlasio needs to allocate enough funds for de-escalation training to ensure that all New York City public schools have at least a 1:100 ratio of de-escalation trained staff to students enrolled.
3. Verify accuracy of suspension and removal data
To ensure that schools are authentically reducing punitive and exclusionary practices, the NYC DOE needs to develop a system for verifying the accuracy of suspension and removal data, or add questions regarding unofficial suspensions to the NYC School Survey.
The Policies In Place
New York City’s Discipline Code allows students to be suspended for up to 180 days
the NYC suspension process creates room for racist disparities in punishment
Students recommended for a “superintendent’s suspension” (over five days, served at an Alternative Learning Center) are provided a hearing, judged by a “Hearing Officer”. Once the Hearing Officer is provided the facts of the case, they make recommendations to the Suspension Director of the District for how long the suspension should be.
The discretion that these Hearing Officer’s hold becomes dangerous when we look at the wide range of consequences in the discipline code:
Threatening another student: 6 day suspension up to a 180 day suspension
Possessing a knife: 1 day suspension up to a 180 day suspension
Taking a book from the library without permission: Parent conference up to a 90 day suspension
Drawing graffiti on school property: Teacher conference up to a 90 day suspension.
teachers are not provided with sufficient training to de-escalate conflict
City-wide, schools are required to identify staff that are trained to de-escalate student crises, but there is no city-wide requirement to train staff for these events.
Teachers trained in de-escalation practices like Cornell University’s Therapeutic Crisis Intervention System (TCIS) lead to decreases in teacher-student restraints, student fights, runaways, and verbal threats.
According to data gathered by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2015-2016, Black students in New York City made up approximately 24.5% of the student population in our public schools, but accounted for 58% of school days missed due to a suspension.
White students made up about 15% of the city’s student population, and accounted for less than 1% of school days missed due to a suspension city wide.
At NYC schools in 2014-2015 there were 6,255 6-10 day suspensions; 309 11-29 day suspensions; 2,162 30 day suspensions; 1,186 31-59 day suspensions; 230 60 day suspensions; 318 61-89 day suspensions; 136 90 day suspensions; and 148 180 day suspensions.
NYC suspension totals decreased steadily from 2014-2016, but showed a sharp increase in the second half of 2016, according to analysis by Chalkbeat, “Between July and December 2017, schools issued roughly 14,500 suspensions — 21 percent more than in the same period the previous year.”
By suspending students for periods longer than 18 days, the DOE is effectively children sentencing to city-mandated chronic absenteeism.
Chronic absenteeism is when a student misses 10% (or 18 days) of school in a year. Although suspended students in NYC are reassigned to “Alternative Learning Centers”, they are still being removed from their classroom and thus, are absent from their school community.
If dropping of high school is a strong indicator for future incarceration, and missing over 18 days of school is a strong indicator for dropping out of high school, then why is the New York City Department Education suspending students for lengths of 20 days, or 30 day, or 60 days, or 90 days, or 180 days?
As long as schools fail to ensure that a critical mass (if not all) of their educators are trained in de-escalation practices, Black and Latinx students’ social-emotional needs will continue to be criminalized.
Learn more from the experts below:
Note: Data reports on school discipline have been ostensibly removed from the New York City Department of Education website since June of 2018, which may account for discrepancies between federal data, and more precise local data.