About Us Continued

However, too often when students are struggling, they are met with exclusionary school discipline and policing practices that only further traumatize them and perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline, disproportionately harming Black and Brown students and students with disabilities. Each year, in New York City schools, tens of thousands of students are suspended, losing days, weeks, or months of instruction and thousands of students with unmet emotional needs are removed from class—including some handcuffed as young as 5 years old—by NYPD officers and taken away from school by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) when medically unnecessary. 


Sadly, this year is proving to be no different, and may be worse. Compared to two years ago at this time, we have received about 25% more calls from families requesting assistance with school discipline matters. In December, we heard from a parent whose daughter had already been suspended from school 6 times for a total of twenty-five school days. Three months into the school year, her child has missed out on more than one third of the days of instruction. We can and must do better for our young people. 


Schools need key resources to transform school environments, address our students’ mental health and behavioral needs, and help improve academic outcomes. Even with the hiring of 500 new school social workers, NYPD school safety agents outnumber DOE social workers by more than 1,000. In addition, while the City funded some mental health initiatives in schools over the last year, many of these programs do not address the immediate needs of school communities and are piecemeal. What New York City needs is a comprehensive system to ensure that students are receiving direct mental health services, schools are receiving support to effectively manage student behavior and mental health, and the DOE is coordinating within key parts of the agency and across other key agencies to provide this support. It is more urgent than ever that our City invest in practices that support young people and divest from practices that criminalize them. We urge the City to work towards creating a comprehensive, integrated system of mental health and behavioral health supports for students.