New York, NY – On Wednesday, November 30th, members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign–New York (DSC-NY) will testify at the City Council’s Education Committee Oversight Hearing on the Department of Education’s School Suspensions Data to raise awareness of the city’s high suspension rates and urge the City Council to demand that the Department of Education reduce the number of suspensions and fund and implement positive, school-wide approaches to discipline that improve school climate, reduce conflict, and increase learning.
Despite a decrease in major crime, suspensions in New York City public schools continue to increase and disproportionately target students of color and students with disabilities, according to recent data revealed through the Student Safety Act. According to the Department of Education, in the 2010-2011 school year, there were 73,441 suspensions, including 15,055 Superintendent Suspensions that lasted 6 days or more. Black students received 52% of the total suspensions, but made up only 33% of the student population.
“The Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York applauds the City Council’s Education Committee for convening this oversight hearing, and stresses that urgent action is needed to address the overuse of suspensions as a disciplinary measure in New York City schools,” said Andy Artz of Legal Services NYC-Bronx and DSC-NY. “The tens of thousands of suspensions that affect city students are inextricably linked to other education issues such as truancy, academic engagement, and graduation rates. Creating a new culture, which does not rely on suspension in order to address school-related incidents, is crucial for promoting higher attendance and greater student achievement.
Members of DSC-NY will testify and urge the City Council to exert its influence to ensure that the Department of Education:
- Implement and fund positive school-wide approaches to discipline, such as restorative practices and positive behavior interventions and supports, starting in the neighborhoods and specific schools with the highest rates of suspension and arrest.
- Revise the New York City Discipline Code to require positive interventions before and instead of suspensions.
- Abide by both the letter and spirit of the law and share with the public all of its suspension data so we can have a full understanding of what is happening with our students. The DOE’s widespread use of redactions in its report under the Student Safety Act makes it impossible for students, parents, advocates and the public to obtain a transparent picture of discipline policies and their effects in NYC schools.
The Student Safety Act that Mayor Bloomberg signed into law on January 6, 2011, requires the Department of Education and NYPD to report quarterly to the City Council on various measures of student safety. Even though the Department of Education issued its report on time, the data it provided raises serious questions about its compliance with the law. For example, in the data released, the Department of Education did not provide data on schools where there were less than 10 suspensions.
Below you will find a link to testimony of a member of DSC-NY that will be presented at the November 30th hearing:
The DSC-NY coalition calls for citywide funding and implementation of positive, school-wide approaches to discipline that improve school climate, reduce conflict, and increase learning. Members include: Advocates for Children, Center for Community Alternatives, Children’s Defense Fund-NY, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Future of Tomorrow, Make the Road New York, Mass Transit Street Theatre, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee, New York Civil Liberties Union- NYCLU, Pumphouse Projects, Sistas and Brothas United, Teachers Unite, Urban Youth Collaborative, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Youth on the Move and Youth Represent. Visit http://www.dignityinschools.org/dsc-ny for more information.
Contact: Shoshi Chowdhury, Dignity in Schools Campaign-NY, 347-832-8391