Dozens of New York City Council members are demanding NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio take action against racial inequalities in school disciplines after a report found that black student receive longer suspensions than other students for the same behaviors.
According to the report, which comes from the New York City Independent Budget Office, black students at NYC schools were, on average, suspended for longer than other students for eight of the 10 most common behavioral infractions.
For three infractions in particular — bullying, reckless behavior and altercations — black students were suspended for nearly twice as long as students of other ethnicities.
“We are deeply concerned by the racial disparities in the length of suspensions for similar infractions revealed in the Independent Budget Office Report,” wrote 18 council members — all but one who are part of the council’s Progressive Caucus — in a letter sent to Carranza and de Blasio on Tuesday.
Black students on average were suspended 9.5 days for bullying and 16.7 days for reckless behavior, whereas white students were on average suspended for 4.6 days and 10.9 days, respectively.
“These disparities are not intractable,” the letter continued, “and in keeping with the Mayor and Chancellor’s vision of Equity for All, we urge the Department of Education [DOE] to set a timeline for adopting reforms to ensure fair and equitable discipline policies and practices in all schools and for all children, especially our most vulnerable students.”
How council members want to fix inequalities at NYC schools
The racially biased disciplines at NYC schools mirrors the criminal justice system, the council members said, reinforcing the school-to-prison pipeline.
Data from the DOE and the NYPD on school discipline and policing outcomes has shown that “black students are disproportionately, suspended, arrested, issued a summons, detained by the NYPD for Juvenile Reports, and handcuffed during emotional distress,” they wrote.
To change this, council members made a few recommendations to Carranza. They suggested the DOE eliminate suspensions for insubordination, eliminate the use of summons, arrests and juvenile reports for low-level misdemeanors and shorten the possible lengths of suspensions. ‘
Currently Superintendent’s Suspensions, which given for more serious offenses like disruptive or harmful behavior, can last up to 180 days — the length of an entire NYC school year. Council members suggest the length of long-term suspensions be changed to a maximum of 20 days.
“The IBO’s recent report reaffirms what our kids have been telling us for years — minority students are unequally subjected to ineffective, racially biased and harsh disciplinary policies,” Council Member Antonio Reynoso said on Twitter. “This report should be the last straw in moving our administration to make necessary long overdue changes.”
The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.