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Update to New York City Public School's Discipline Code Bans Suspensions for K-2 Students

Update to New York City Public School's Discipline Code Bans Suspensions for K-2 Students

Proposed updates to the discipline code that guides the nation’s largest school district will ban suspensions for K-2 students.

"Suspensions would be replaced with more age-appropriate discipline, city officials said of the reforms, which comes with $15 million a year from the ThriveNYC initiative to provide at least 50 more schools with mental health services over the next three year,” said DNAInfo.com.

The move has been long-called for by advocates, but many are concerned that the district does not have enough resources in place to ensure the reforms are effective.

Advocates want to ensure that students in all grades, not just the youngest ones, are protected from being funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline.

Many believe this is possible with a significant investment of funding and time into restorative justice programs, extracurriculars and mental health services.

New York City isn’t the first large school district to begin implementing restorative justice practices, but other district’s past experiences with changing discipline code has some worried that teachers and administrators will not receive enough support following the change.

“Under these reforms, principals would be stripped of disciplinary tools before measures, like restorative justice training, and necessary personnel, i.e., counselors and psychiatrists, are in place to offer chronically misbehaving students the services they need to modify their behavior,” said The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators in a statement, according to the article.

“Each requires additional training and personnel, both impediments in the massive and often cash-strapped New York City Department of Education,” and "hamstringing a school administrator’s ability to take appropriate action against students who violate a school’s Disciplinary Code ultimately harms the offending student, the student body and the institution.”

Just this week, a survey of educators working in Indianapolis Public School district revealed that the majority of educators feel under supported after the district updated its discipline code last year. Most argued that they are largely unfamiliar with the changes and could use more training to effectively discipline students now.

Last year, teachers working in Los Angeles Unified School District said that a ban on suspensions for non-violent crimes has resulted in unruly classrooms and an over-utilization of school resource officers.

In other words, while many districts and their educators can agree that reducing suspensions is important, educators need training and support to best implement alternative measures.Only time will tell if New York City will have learned from other's mistakes. 

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

7/22/2016

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