The Student Safety Coalition focuses on replacing harsh school discipline practices and police intervention with alternatives that support New York City kids in the classroom. We are calling on the Mayor to take the following actions:
- Convene a Leadership Team of key city agencies, parents, students and others in the education and justice communities charged with reforming school discipline. We urge the de Blasio administration to use its convening power to bring together relevant stakeholders with a strong mandate: maintain school safety while reducing suspensions, referrals to EMS, summonses and arrests in schools.
- Address the roles and responsibilities of NYPD personnel in schools. The Student Safety Coalition calls for the implementation of “A New Vision for School Safety” to provide clear and transparent guidelines for all NYPD employees in New York City schools. The Vision consists of nine guiding principles for overhauling the flawed Memorandum of Understanding between the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the NYPD, which currently governs school safety operations. Implementation of these principles would clarify that educators, not police personnel or school safety officers, should address the vast majority of student misbehavior.
- Announce and fund a Restorative Practices School Initiative that allows schools to fully implement more effective discipline practices. Despite the demonstrated success of positive discipline practices such as mediation, counseling and restorative justice, only a handful of schools in NYC engage in these techniques. Restorative justice practices have been shown not only to reduce overall rates of suspension and arrest, but also to reduce disproportionality based on race and special education status.
- Revise the Discipline Code. The DOE should follow the lead of the Los Angeles Unified School District and eliminate the use of suspensions for minor infractions. Additionally, the Code should mandate and provide supports for the use of guidance interventions such as counseling, mediation and restorative justice prior to out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.
- Expand training and professional development opportunities. The DOE should expand current promising models to provide training to all school personnel, including police officers, in developmentally appropriate de-escalation and response techniques to misbehavior.
- Hire enough social workers and guidance counselors to fully support all students. The DOE has more school safety officers in schools than guidance counselors. This is a misplaced priority. Increasing the number of social workers and guidance counselors, as well as student access to mental health services, should be a priority.
- Improve educational re-engagement for suspended, expelled and sentenced youth. An overwhelming number of suspended and court-involved students are behind academically and roughly 50% are students with disabilities. Re-enrollment and re-engagement strategies should be put in place to address these students’ needs and help them transition from long-term suspensions and court-ordered placements back to community schools.
- Improve data collection and transparency by DOE and NYPD on suspensions and interventions by police and EMS in schools. This will allow for improved monitoring of discipline reforms and their impact on students of color and those with special needs.