Jan. 28, 2020 By Allie Griffin
State Senator Jessica Ramos rallied alongside advocates in Albany Monday to urge state lawmakers to pass a bill that would limit suspensions in public schools.
The bill, titled the Judge Judith Kaye Solutions not Suspension Act, was introduced by Brooklyn State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and aims to make the use of suspensions a last resort to discipline students in order to prevent ongoing racial disparities across state schools.
School suspensions have been linked to students dropping out and ending up in the criminal justice system — and Black and Hispanic students are suspended at much higher rates than their peers, statistics show.
Instead the bill, co-sponsored by Ramos and 20 other state senators, calls on schools to adopt less punitive actions to combat poor student conduct.
Students who miss classroom time through suspension are less likely to succeed and are more likely to wind up in the prison system.
In New York State, students lose 686,686 days of school a year due to suspensions, according to statistics cited by the sponsors of the bill.
The bill would limit long term suspensions to no more than 20 school days and prohibit suspending students in kindergarten through third grade, except in situations of serious physical injury.
Currently, students can be suspended for up to 180 days.
School administrators would also have to create an education plan for suspended students during their time out of the classroom under the bill.
The bill would also prohibit suspending students for tardiness, unexcused absences, leaving school without permission, dress code violations, lack of school ID and “willful disobedience” — which it defines as disruptive, insubordinate or rowdy behavior.
At the rally Monday, Ramos said she was concerned about current school disciplinary actions.
“I’m very concerned about the way we are quote-unquote correcting behavior in schools,” she said.
“It is not fair that our students are continuously penalized for perhaps learning in different ways.”
During the 2016-2017 school year, black students in New York public schools outside of the New York City were suspended at four times the rate of their white peers — and in the City, black public school students were suspended at five times the rates of their white peers, according to a report by the New York Equity Coalition.
Students with disabilities are also over-represented in statewide school suspensions. While students with disabilities represent 18.7 percent of all students, they account for 38.6 percent of all suspensions, according to a report published by the Alliance for Quality Education.
Supporters of the bill also point to research that suggests suspensions and expulsions are ineffective and can have long-term impacts on students’ academic success.
One suspension in high school has been linked to students being twice as likely to drop out of school, according to statistics cited by the sponsors of the bill.
— Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) (@GGENYC) January 27, 2020