Advocates Push For Changes In NYC Public School Punishments Because Too Many Minorities Are Being Suspended

Neetu Chandak | Contributor

Civil rights advocates want New York City public schools to change suspension policies because they believe minorities receive tougher punishments.

The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday asking for certain suspensions to be shortened and to do more to address racial disparities.

“Current suspension terms have wide windows, from 11-29 days for certain infractions, and 30-59 days for other infractions,” the letter said. “The [Department of Education] DOE should shorten suspension terms to 11-15 days and 16-20 days.”

The group also wanted to get rid of suspensions for defying authority in the long term, according to the progressive caucus’s website.

SHUTTERSTOCK/Pabkov

SHUTTERSTOCK/Pabkov

Civil rights supporters also held a rally Tuesday saying the city punishes black and Hispanic students more harshly, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Advocates referred to an Independent Budget Office (IBO) report from Oct. 11 that found black students on average were suspended for more days than other racial groups for instances like bullying and reckless behavior.

Black students had on average 16.7 days of suspension for reckless behavior, Hispanic students had 11.5 days, white students had 10.9 days and Asian students had 7.3 days of suspension in the 2016-2017 school year, according to the IBO report. Black students had on average 9.5 days for what IBO called “bullying” on the upper end while Asian students had a lower end average of 4.1 days when it came to bullying. (RELATED: School Cancels ‘Aladdin Jr.’ Play Over Its ‘Negative Stereotyping Of Arabic Culture’)

Those for strict discipline believe placing limitations on suspensions have made some schools more disorderly, TheWSJ reported.

“Some of the policies that took discretion and authority from principals have certainly frustrated us,” said Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, according to TheWSJ. “It doesn’t make sense to ask someone who wasn’t in the building whether the decision of a principal was just.”

De Blasio has also addressed diversity concerns recently. He pushed a bill on Sept. 21 for schools in Brooklyn’s 15th district to forego academic criteria like auditions, test scores and grades to increase diversity in schools.

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