NYC Students Start School Without New Discipline Code

By Dignity in Schools Campaign - New York
p>Dignity in Schools CampaignThe following statement was originally issued by the Dignity in Schools Campaign, an OTL ally.

For Immediate Release
Contacts: Shoshi Chowdhury
Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York (DSC-NY)

New York, NY, September 3, 2014 – Tomorrow, 1.1 million NYC students will start school without a new discipline code. Community members and elected officials agree changes are needed to create safer and more supportive schools. The Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York, with the support of 16 City Council members and two state assembly members, is calling on the Department of Education (“DOE”) and the de Blasio administration to limit punitive discipline practices and promote positive school climates.

Each year, the DOE suspends thousands of students for minor misbehavior such as insubordination and talking back, infractions that fall under Infraction Code B21 of the DOE’s Discipline Code.  While students should be held accountable for their behavior, research has shown that suspensions are ineffective in preventing future behavior problems and can actually increase the likelihood that students get into additional trouble and fall behind in their classroom work. Furthermore, data shows that children of color and those with disabilities are suspended at higher rates for these minor infractions than their peers.

 Large school districts like Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco have identified more effective strategies to keep kids in school and improve school discipline.  DSC-NY and Council Members, including Chair of the Education Committee, Daniel Dromm, are calling on the Mayor and the DOE to make long-overdue changes to the Discipline Code that would establish New York City as a progressive educational leader and implement best practices similar to those adopted in these other cities. Recommended changes to discipline policy include:

  • Requiring all schools to use Guidance Interventions, such as counseling, mediation or community circles, before any student can be suspended.
  • Eliminating the ability of schools to suspend students for minor misbehavior under the category of “defying or disobeying authority” (Infraction B21).  
  • Providing funding and training for school staff to implement positive discipline approaches, such as conflict resolution, peer mediation and restorative practices.

Over the past few months, the de Blasio administration has been open to meeting with DSC-NY and other community members to discuss positive approaches to discipline. While we remain hopeful the city is moving in the right direction and that changes to the Discipline Code will be made this fall, we are frustrated by the slow pace of change.  We call on the de Blasio administration to create systemic change now that will begin to end racial and special education disparities in school discipline and bring us closer to safe and supportive school climates for all students.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York (DSC-NY) is a citywide coalition of students, parents, advocates, educators and lawyers calling for positive, school-wide approaches to discipline that improve the school environment, reduce conflict and increase learning.

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