“In 2011 the Council passed the Student Safety Act which was designed to give us and the public a better understanding of school discipline. The statistics we have received from DOE and the Police Department as a result of the law are alarming because they show that male students of color and students with special needs are subject to a disproportionate amount of discipline both in terms of arrests and suspensions. This is of course on its face troubling, but as significantly, data shows that this type of intervention does not act as a deterrent and has a negative impact on students because those who are suspended or arrested are less likely to graduate and could be denied future employment opportunities due to a criminal record.
“Although our primary goal must always be maintaining the safest schools for students and staff, we need to do this in a way that not only continues the safety gains the NYPD has helped achieve, but also in a way that is fair and fully helpful to students. Continuing the practices we know are harmful to students and their futures will not work.
“The City Council has been working on this issue for some times for some time and successfully advocated for the Department of Education, who we thank, to change the school discipline code, which has had some impact on the sheer number of school disciplinary actions.
“That said, this most recent Student Safety Report makes clear that more needs to be done and that we need to add alternatives to suspensions and arrests into these school safety models. Without alternatives such as guidance services, student engagement opportunities and behavioral supports that encourage and motivate pro-social student behavior and a positive connection to the school community, schools are prone to resorting to use the tactics that negatively impact students.
“Today’s hearing will present us with these and other examples of discipline that have improved individual student behavior and overall school culture using alternatives to suspensions and arrests.
Several of these models are already being successfully used in DOE schools.
“Looking ahead, we will pursue creating a new approach to school discipline that implements a combination of these and other non-punitive strategies in every school in our city.”