November 2, 2015
With school crime down 29 percent in four years, Roadmap to expand de-escalation training, provide additional positive disciplinary supports for educators, clarify areas where school discipline can be better addressed through non-law enforcement tools
Launched in partnership with City Council, Roadmap aims to eliminate higher rates of suspensions, arrests and summonses among students of color and with disabilities
NEW YORK –Mayor de Blasio today announced a roadmap to promote safe schools and end overly punitive school discipline policies, which disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities. Announced in partnership with Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and the City Council, the roadmap includes additional training for police officers in how to de-escalate school conflicts, expanded access to behavioral health treatment options in high needs schools, and increased training and support for school personnel in non-punitive school disciplinary strategies. Since the 2011-2012 school year, school safety has improved in NYC public schools, with major crime down 25 percent and overall crime down 29 percent. Implementing this plan will advance the de Blasio administration's commitment to continue driving down crime in schools while also ensuring that all students feel safe and respected.
"When I was a public school parent, it was incredibly valuable to know that Dante and Chiara were safe and supported in class," said Mayor de Blasio. "Parents in all neighborhoods across New York City deserve the peace of mind to know that their children are empowered to learn and succeed in a safe, inclusive environment. This roadmap will ensure that schools across the city bring families, educators, safety professionals, and community leaders together to support one of New York City's most prized resources – our students."
"Whether through strengthening the Student Safety Act or by investing $2.4 million to expand restorative justice programs to more schools in need, the City Council is committed to supporting City students and reforming punitive disciplinary practices in our schools," said Speaker Mark-Viverito. "The Roadmap initiative is a comprehensive approach to school safety that will build on the Council's efforts to eliminate disparities within our school system and I thank the de Blasio Administration and my Council colleagues for their partnership as we work together to support City students."
"Our schools should be safe havens for learning, especially for our students who are struggling most. This new roadmap makes important investments to ensure that our classrooms give children and educators the tools they need to succeed and thrive. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina for moving our schools forward with these lasting and constructive reforms," said Public Advocate Letitia James.
Students of color and students with disabilities continue to represent a disproportionate portion of those who are arrested or suspended in school, and a number of schools continue to have high rates of suspensions, arrests and in-school summonses. Research shows that when students are suspended or arrested in school, their chances of being held back in school, dropping out and/or entering the juvenile justice system increase, even when controlling for individual student characteristics and school makeup. To ensure that schools remain safe and to avoid these negative outcomes, the de Blasio administration is enacting smarter policies that will promote safer schools and support teachers while reducing the need for exclusionary discipline and school-based arrests.
The administration's roadmap is based on recommendations developed by the Mayor's Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline – a Task Force comprised of city leaders, City Council leaders, educators and community stakeholders that examined ways to make disciplinary practices in schools more equitable and effective.
The strategy announced includes both system-wide improvements to continue positive citywide trends, as well as concentrated resources to reduce disparities and better support high-need schools and students. Over the next year, the City will:
Expand De-Escalation Training
The City will strengthen the relationships between educators, students, safety agents and police through expanded training, additional guidelines and technical assistance, and by clarifying roles of all adults in the school during crises.
Expand Restorative Techniques
The City will expand disciplinary practices that incorporate restorative techniques – a form of discipline aimed at reducing future incidents through dialogue, self-reflection, and teaching impulse control. Restorative techniques can also be used in tandem with suspension.
Expand Social-emotional Learning
The City will expand resources that support students' social-emotional learning. Social-emotional learning emphasizes self-reflection and impulse control, and is particularly important for students who may have experienced trauma.
Develop Uniform Metal Detector Protocol
The city does not have a set of criteria for adding or removing metal detectors or assessing detector usage. Currently, there are 80 permanent scanning campuses throughout the City. Total crime in New York City public schools has declined 48 percent over the last decade.
To ensure that the City's strategy is implemented quickly and effectively, the Department of Education hired Kenyatte Reid – former principal of Eagle Academy in Queens – as the Senior Director of School Culture and Climate.
Since the Mayor took office, schools are becoming safer and suspensions are declining. This corrects the spike in suspensions, arrests, and summonses in New York City schools that resulted from zero-tolerance policies in the 2000s.
The Mayor's Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline will release a second set of recommendations in the Spring of School Year 2016.
"As a grandmother, parent and lifelong educator, I know it is critical to have a safe, supportive and rigorous learning environment for students to achieve. We are providing more training to teachers, working closely with school safety officers, and giving social emotional support to students to ensure they are in the classroom where they can learn. I look forward to continuing this important work with educators, students, families and community members," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
"The significant crime reduction within our City's schools is an achievement we can all be proud of. The NYPD welcomes these training opportunities for its members, and the Department looks forward to improving its relationships with school faculty and students to ensure that New York City schools remain safe environments where students can learn and excel," said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.
"Reducing suspensions and creating safe and respectful climates in our schools are vital steps toward giving every student the educational opportunity they deserve" said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Chair of Committee on Education. "That is why I have introduced Assembly bill A.8396, which addresses issues of appropriate discipline policies in our schools. Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina are a model for our state in strategically addressing this important issue and I look forward to working with them and the NYC task force on this important work."
"We must encourage a safe, nurturing environment for our public school students if they are to succeed academically," said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education. "I am pleased that the NYC Department of Education and the NYPD have begun to implement recommendations by the School Climate and Discipline Leadership Team which embrace a restorative justice approach to school discipline, and that the City Council has allocated resources to support this effort. I want to thank the Mayor and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for making this a priority."
"I applaud Mayor de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and the Mayor's Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline for recognizing that our children learn best in an environment that promotes prevention not detention. The programs announced today address many of the same issues that drove this Council to recently amend the Student Safety Act and I am thrilled to see the Administration fast-track disciplinary reform. Our students deserve schools that balance safety with dignity and I look forward to seeing the changes outlined in the Mayor's roadmap realized in classrooms and hallways across all New York City public schools," said Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety.
"As we saw this week, police street tactics have no place in school discipline, and can escalate a minor incident into a terrifying ordeal," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "Today's reforms from the Mayor's Leadership Team represent concrete progress toward making city schools safe, nurturing and thriving. Public schools should be a place where discipline is an educational matter designed to teach children the skills and values that will help them succeed -- not a vehicle for discrimination and excess that widens the achievement gap and pushes vulnerable children out of school. The NYCLU will continue working with the Leadership Team to press for systemic reforms that ensure fairness, equity and a safe learning environment for all children."
"The Council of School Supervisors & Administrators supports professional development for all members of the city schools community as it relates to improving student deportment and school climate," said CSA Executive Vice President Mark Cannizzaro. "We also maintain that school principals are best positioned to make decisions regarding an effective response to student behavior."
"I commend the Mayor's leadership in producing this roadmap for school discipline," said Judge Judith Kaye. "These reforms will ensure that schools put students on a path to success, not to justice system involvement. We understand the magnitude of the problem – the data makes clear that an alarming proportion of Black students and students with special needs have experienced punitive disciplinary measures. It's time for us to address this issue and improve outcomes for all students in New York City, and the Mayor's roadmap provides a proactive plan that will improve school climate and keep kids in school and out of court."
"The Mayor's announcement is incredibly timely, in that recent news stories have thrown into sharp relief the urgent need for schools across the country to change the way they approach student discipline. The plans announced today are steps in the right direction, towards a school system where all students have a genuine opportunity to learn in an environment that is both safe and supportive," said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children.
"A safe and supportive learning environment is a prerequisite to academic progress and excellence in all schools. Implementing this roadmap is a critical step to providing educators, safety officers, and schools with the necessary resources to balance the needs of every student in their classrooms, maintain order and increase learning time. We are excited the de Blasio Administration and the City Council have shined a light on the importance of school climate and culture and hope they continue to solicit the feedback of teachers as implementation gets under way," said Evan Stone, co-founder and co-chief executive director of Educators for Excellence.