The New York Civil Liberties Union will kick off its annual Week of Action at the Washington Irving Education Campus in Manhattan from 7-8:30 a.m. tomorrow, Oct. 13. This year’s Week of Action will focus on students’ rights when facing suspensions. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, NYCLU volunteers will visit selected schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx before classes start and after the school day ends to speak with students and distribute Know Your Rights When Facing a Suspension palm cards.
"Every kid benefits from learning about their individual rights and how those rights are protected by law," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "The NYCLU's Week of Action is a wonderful opportunity for our staff and volunteers to encourage city kids to be active participants in protecting their right to an education."
This year’s Week of Action comes at a time of progress for New York City school discipline policies. The Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline recently convened to create recommendations for improving school climate and the impact of school discipline on students’ education. Last week, amendments to the Student Safety Act were passed bringing increased transparency regarding discipline and law enforcement practices in schools.
During the 2013-14 school year, there were 53,504 suspensions, down from a peak of 73,943 in the 2010-11 school year. Although school suspensions are down, they nonetheless continue to disproportionately target students of color and students with disabilities. Nearly 90 percent of suspended students were black or Latino.
This NYCLU is focusing its on-the-ground actions in schools where over-reliance on suspension is a problem. For example, the School for Democracy & Leadership in Brooklyn, which the NYCLU will visit on Wednesday, had 323 suspensions last year. That’s a rate of nearly one suspension for each of the 330 students in the entire school.
What: Week of Action to inform city students of their rights when facing suspension kick-off
When: 7-8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13
Where: Washington Irving Education Campus, 40 Irving Place