Coalition Seeking Legislation for Comprehensive Reform of School Discipline
A coalition of national, statewide and local organizations have joined with late Chief Justice of New York State Judith Kaye and New York State Assembly Education Chair Catherine Nolan to support A.8396, a bill that will reduce school suspension and promote a positive school climate, cultivating an environment where teachers can teach and students can learn.
The legislation is hailed as essential by Advocates for Children, The Legal Aid Society, Urban Youth Collaborative, Make the Road New York, The New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, The New York Civil Liberties Union, Advancement Project, Alliance for Quality Education and Citizen Action of New York.
This common sense legislation is designed to reduce suspensions and keep students in school. The goal of the legislation is to reverse the disturbing school-to-prison pipeline, which starts with excessive use of suspensions, often for minor infractions. This is an issue that disproportionately affects students of color. The most recent data from the New York State Report Card shows that 94,877 student were suspended during the 2012-2013 school year, which is more than 500 suspensions per day. Even children in Kindergarten have been subject to suspensions for typical age-level behavior.
The coalition’s plan for the bill will keep students in school learning.
Buffalo Adopts Progressive Code of Conduct
For the years, the Buffalo community has been working hard to bring a progressive Code of Conduct to Buffalo that would reduce the overuse of excessive and harsh discipline practices, especially for non-violent incidents. Buffalo City Schools adopted a new code, and they are currently in the implementation stage of these new progressive policies that will keep students in school and learning.
Read the recent report on how Buffalo City Schools’ new policies are putting an end the school-to-prison pipeline.
Rochester is Next
AQE with Metro Justice is currently working in Rochester, asking its city school officials to adopt a similar progressive policy. In Rochester, like many other cities around the country, young people are routinely subjected to extreme discipline and kicked out of school for behavior that used to get students sent to the principal’s office or guidance counselor.
Like Buffalo, this problem affects a higher proportion of students of color and students with disabilities. During the 2012-13 school year, more than 10% of students in Rochester were suspended and Rochester students missed over 54,000 days of school during because of suspensions.
Advancement Project, AQE, Metro Justice and Teen Empowerment Report: Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: The Crisis Affecting Rochester Students and What We Can Do to Fix It
Jawaan Daniels was a student in Buffalo. After being given an out-of-school suspension for wandering the halls, Jawaan left school and was on his way to the bus when he was tragically killed in a drive-by shooting. Since Jawaan’s death, the Buffalo community has rallied to change the overuse of harsh discipline practices for non-violent incidents, such as wandering the halls.