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Alternatives to School Suspensions - Two Grants Help Change How Students Are Disciplined

SIGN OF CHANGE: Our grants have supported a campaign to transform school discipline policies.

For decades, the response to students’ misconduct in schools seemed simple: Send them home and don’t allow them to attend classes for days, sometimes weeks. But research shows such punishment only makes matters worse. Not only do students lose class time, but they fall further behind in their studies, and are much more likely to drop out. 

With The Trust’s support, Advocates for Children of New York and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative have pressed for alternatives to suspension, such as counseling, mediation, student-led conflict resolution sessions and anger-management classes, in-school detention, and community service. In 2015, the Mayor’s Leadership Team for School Climate followed their suggestions, and suspensions dropped 23 percent this past school year. 

Now The Trust is giving the groups an additional $155,000 to focus on the racial disparity in suspension rates, and to ensure disabled students are treated fairly. Studies show  African-American students are three to four times more likely to be suspended than white students, and students with disabilities are twice as likely to be sent home for misbehaving. The nonprofits will ensure the Leadership Team’s reforms continue to make a difference. 

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