New Code Aims to Ease Suspensions of Students

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, August 30, 2012

New York City public-school students can no longer be suspended for one-time, low-level infractions, and the youngest pupils can be suspended only for 5 days for midlevel offenses, down from 10, according to new disciplinary rules posted by the Education Department this week.

With an aim of reducing punishments that keep students out of the classroom, the department’s new disciplinary code also guides teachers to intervene quickly with misbehaving students and to try counseling before moving to punishment.

“We want to be able to address improper behavior before it reaches a higher level,” said Marge Feinberg, a department spokeswoman. “And to do that, we are focused on providing strong student support services coupled with parent involvement.”

Under the new code, which is reviewed and revised annually, students in all grades will no longer face any form of suspension for transgressions like being late for school, being absent without an excuse, talking back to teachers or school leaders, or carrying prohibited items like smartphones and beepers. They can still be punished in other ways, including being kept from extracurricular activities or being sent to the principal’s office. And students repeatedly removed from the classroom for low-level offenses can still, in limited instances, be suspended.

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