NYC School Suspensions Surge

In spite of enthusiastic efforts to decrease the number of suspensions and implement restorative practices in New York City public schools, the Department of Education reports that suspensions in city schools have risen 21 percent.

According to a report to the City Council in September, the number of suspensions was down by 17 percent in comparison to the previous school year, with a total of 1,317 suspensions. Suspensions rose to 4,696 in October, with no explicit reasoning. However, city schools issues 14,502 suspensions from July to December 2017, an increase from 12,008 in 2016. Students can be suspended for a number of violations, such as physical violence against staff or students, destroying school property, or bringing weapons on school grounds.

As a result of the increase in suspensions, the education department has given additional training in de-escalation techniques and restorative practices to specific schools and districts. So far, it doesn’t seem to have yielded good results. The city saw a 5.4 percent increase in suspensions (23, 825 in 2016-17 school year compared to 25,106 in 2017-18) in a period ranging from July 2017 to March 23, compared with the same period a year prior.

“This remains a top priority, and we are expanding school-based supports and resources while remaining vigilant in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Elizabeth Rose, the department’s deputy chancellor for operations, said in a statement.

Although percentages rose city-wide, kindergarten through second grade suspensions decreased dramatically since the city changed the school discipline code to make it more difficult to suspend non-violent children in that grade range. In the year that it’s been changed, there have been 37 suspensions in 2017, down 85 percent from 254 in 2016.