The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has released a report aimed at
curtailing the growing school to prison pipeline problem. The report includes recommendations
for the use of restorative justice practices in lieu of student suspensions.
“NYSBA’s Task Force on
the School to Prison Pipeline was established to study relevant issues,
information, law and current practices with respect to school discipline,
outline appropriate disciplinary sanctions and restorative justice alternatives
including youth courts, and recommend discipline and restorative justice best
practices for school districts,” said NYSBA President Michael Miller.
“The school to prison
pipeline pushes schoolchildren, especially at-risk youth, out of the classroom
and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems,” Miller added. “As more
school districts utilize the recommendations for treating student misconduct
that are outlined in this excellent report, we believe that this disturbing
trend will be diminished.”
The report provides an
overview of the student suspension statute, New York Education Law §3214, which
sets forth the procedures to be used by school districts in disciplining
students with respect to out-of-school suspensions. The task force reviewed
studies showing that students who are excluded from school face adverse
consequences, including lower academic achievement, higher truancy, higher
dropout rates, and higher contact with the juvenile justice system.
These adverse impacts are
experienced at higher rates by students of color, students with disabilities,
and LGBTQ students. Studies further
demonstrate that students who are suspended are three times more likely to have
risk of contact with the judicial system and two times more likely to drop out
of school than are students who are not suspended from school.
Among the recommendations
by the task force to help rectify the school to prison pipeline: inclusion of
language in Education Law Section 3214 to permit and endorse the use of
restorative justice practices in lieu of suspensions; the development of a
standardized methodology for measuring disparities in discipline at both
district and school levels across the protected classes of race, gender,
disability and, if possible, by LGBTQ status; and that the state Legislature
and governor provide ample financial support to school districts’ introduction
of restorative justice practices.
The task force was appointed
in 2017 by then-President Sharon Stern Gerstman and was co-chaired by Sheila A.
Gaddis (Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County, Inc.) and John H. Gross
(Ingerman Smith). It also included advisory members who represented school
districts, school boards, universities and youth courts.
The report was approved last
month at the State Bar’s House of Delegates meeting in Albany.
Click here to view the full report.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar
Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since
1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the
legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers
through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Christian Nolan