Fewer Suspensions, with Continued Disparities

Advocates protested the city's suspension policy in August. ( Photo by Monica Disare via Chalkbeat)

Advocates protested the city’s suspension policy in August. (Photo by Monica Disare via Chalkbeat)

Suspensions dropped nearly 16 percent in the 2015-2016 school year compared with the previous school year, the NYC Department of Education reported, but disciplinary action against Black students and students with disabilities continues to be disproportionate. Writes Alex Zimmerman in Chalkbeat:

About 50 percent of the city’s suspensions went to black students, even though they represent just over 27 percent of the student population. That’s slightly better than the previous school year, when that group represented 52 percent of the city’s suspensions (…)

Students with disabilities, who make up around 19 percent of the city’s students, accounted for almost 39 percent of all suspensions. And while their total number of suspensions decreased by nearly 15 percent, they made up a slightly larger share of student suspensions than in the previous academic year.

The DOE has been actively trying to implement “progressive discipline” of students. In a statement, the DOE attributed the continued decline in suspensions and other improvements, such as fewer summonses and arrests of students, to various programs, including “trainings on restorative practices, de-escalation, therapeutic crisis interventions and collaborative problem solving, as well as hiring 250 new guidance counselors over the last two years, 130 additional guidance counselors and social workers…and 100 mental health consultants this year.”

In addition, teachers have been authorized to “remove” disruptive students from classrooms for up to four days, to other locations in the school where they can still receive classwork and do homework. Removals increased 3 percent over the last five years.

The improvements have garnered some praise, including from Teachers Union president Michael Mulgrew, who said the numbers show “the trend is in the right direction,” Chalkbeat reported.

Yet, he added, “Success should not be measured by the number of suspensions, but by the number of schools with an improved school climate.”

Go to Chalkbeat to read what Kesi Foster, coordinator for the Urban Youth Collaborative, has to say about the continued disparity in school discipline of black students.

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