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Op-Ed: City Should Help Students who Misbehave (NY Daily News)

By Donna Lieberman

Education is a child’s right — not a reward for good behavior.

Sadly, in our public schools, the kids who need help the most are often the same kids missing school because of a suspension, ticket or even an arrest.

During 2013-14, more than four arrests or criminal summonses were issued every day of the school year, turning routine misbehavior like drawing on the desk into criminal matters.

“Insubordination” and horseplay resulted in nearly 14,000 suspensions for sixth through 12th graders.

Young men of color and those with special needs bear the brunt of these policies.

The consequences are severe: Children who get pushed into the criminal justice system are less likely than their peers to graduate.

The good news is that school arrests and summonses have gone down over the past year — as has crime.

And the de Blasio administration has taken some important steps like lifting the ridiculous cellphone ban that only created conflict between children and police personnel.

But this must only be the beginning.

It is time to finally end Bloomberg-era policies that send children to the police precinct when what they really need is a guidance counselor or social worker.

Educators and police personnel must work together with the mandate to help children, not get rid of them or demonize them.

And all school employees must learn de-escalation and conflict resolution.

Donna Lieberman is executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

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