A new report released by the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force calls for reform of disciplinary policies that lead to young people being arrested for minor infractions.
Taking aim at New York’s school-to-prison pipeline, the report reflects a trend across the country; minor disciplinary issues like talking back or violating dress codes are criminalized, thus setting young people on a course that makes them more likely to drop out, or be entangled permanently in the criminal justice system.
The report shows that black and Hispanic youth are arrested more frequently that white students who commit similar infractions.
The numbers are startling. The city schools imposed nearly 70,000 suspensions in the 2011-2012 school year, 40 percent more than the period six years earlier. Of the 882 arrests during the school year studied, one in every six was for “resisting arrest” or “obstructing governmental administration,” charges for which there is often no underlying criminal behavior. The authorities also issued more than 1,600 summonses — tickets that require the student to appear in criminal court and that can lead to arrest for those who fail to appear.
The discriminatory application of disciplinary policy is particularly troubling. For example, the study found that black students in New York City are 14 times more likely to be arrested because of school-based incidents than their white peers; Hispanic students are five times more likely to be arrested than whites. Special-needs children are also disproportionately affected, and are four times more likely to be suspended that than their peers.
The report calls for an “interagency leadership team” to brainstorm ways top reform harsh disciplinary policies, as the creation of a protocol that shows schools how to handle relatively minor infractions themselves.
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