The New York City Department of Education today released new data on the number of school suspensions for the 2013-14 school year and its biannual report on the number of suspensions from January to June 2014, the first six month period of the de Blasio administration. The data for the 2013-14 school year indicates that school suspensions are at the same levels since the previous year, as are the disparities in school suspensions for black and Latino students and students with special needs.
In New York City, black students make up only 26 percent of enrolled students but receive 53 percent of all school suspensions. Black and Latino students combined receive 89 percent of all school suspensions while white students receive less than 7 percent of all suspensions. Students with special needs received 36 percent of all suspensions despite making up only 12 percent of the student population as of 2012.
Data from January to June 2014, which marks the start of the new de Blasio administration, shows a 12 percent decrease in suspensions compared to the same time period the year before during the Bloomberg administration, which was notorious for pushing zero tolerance school discipline policies.
The New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement in response, attributable to Executive Director Donna Lieberman:
“Though the approximately 10 percent decline in school suspensions during the first six months of the new de Blasio administration is heartening, the fact remains that a change in New York City’s punitive education culture will not happen without dramatic policy shifts. There is an immense amount of work to be done to ensure New York City children get their right to an education,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. “The de Blasio administration inherited a school system that oversaw unprecedented increases in exclusionary school discipline – suspensions, arrests and summonses. Ten months into the new administration and two months into the new school year, it’s time for the de Blasio administration to end the overreliance on destructive and discriminatory practices and undertake the systemic, common sense reforms that will make schools a conducive environment for learning.”