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In response to the Independent Budget Office (IBO) Report “When Students of Different Ethnicities Are Suspended For the Same Infraction Is the Average Length of Their Suspension the Same?,” which revealed racial disparities in the length of suspensions for similar infractions, the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council joined a rally today on the steps of City Hall, after sending a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza recommending policies to reduce racial inequity in school suspensions.

Speakers at the rally included Caucus Council Members Donovan Richards, Mark Levine, Antonio Reynoso, and Brad Lander, as well as Council Members Rory Lancman and Daniel Dromm and student organizers from the Urban Youth Collaborative.

The rally came after the IBO’s research unearthed a number of troubling conclusions:

  • Black students received longer suspensions on average for 8 of the top 10 infractions.
  • Black students were suspended for roughly twice the number of days for bullying, reckless behavior, and altercations, compared to the ethnic group suspended for the fewest days on average.

Youth-led organizations, parent advocates, educators, and civil rights advocates have proposed comprehensive reforms to reduce and eliminate the racial disparities found across discipline enforcement and outcomes. In keeping with the Mayor and Chancellor’s vision of Equity for All, the Progressive Caucus urge the Department of Education to set a timeline for adopting reforms to ensure fair and equitable discipline policies and practices in all schools and for all children, especially our most vulnerable students.

Furthermore, New York City has codified a school discipline system with inherent racial biases and inequities mirrored in our juvenile and criminal justice systems. Since the Department of Education and New York Police Department began collecting and publicly reporting school discipline and policing outcomes, the data has consistently shown black students are disproportionately, suspended, arrested, issued a summons, detained by the NYPD for Juvenile Reports, and handcuffed during emotional distress.

Recommendations for the Department of Education:

  • Shorten the windows for length of Superintendent Suspensions and limit the length of long-term suspensions from 180 days to 20 days.
  • Shorten suspension terms to 11-15 days and 16-20 days.
  • Create a comprehensive plan to address the racial inequities and disparities across discipline practices and outcomes.

Recommendations for the Department of Education and New York Police Department:

  • Reduce the frequency and duration of suspensions and minimize arrests and referrals to the justice system for school-based disciplinary offenses.
  • Reduce disparities by race, gender, disability and LGBT status in student discipline, arrests and summonses.
  • Implement strategies and supports to specifically reduce disparities in discipline and school-based arrests/summonses.

Long-term Recommendations:

  • Eliminate suspensions for insubordination/defying authority.
  • Mandate guidance interventions before the use of suspensions.
  • Eliminate the use of summons, arrests, and juvenile reports for low-level offenses (misdemeanors) and violations.

The Caucus advocates that the City immediately advance all policy reforms necessary to make sure all students are treated fairly and equitably within all of NYC schools.

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