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NYC Public Schools Change ‘Discipline Code’ To Ease Penalties For Smoking, Cursing, Cutting Class

Is Education In The Big City Getting Soft? Schools Chancellor Walcott Says No
Classroom (file / credit: clipart.com)

Classroom (file / credit: clipart.com)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Students may be catching a break if they misbehave in school. The rules surrounding suspensions in New York City schools are changing.

The changes to the discipline code should result in far fewer suspensions, CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported Wednesday.

“Our goal is to make sure the schools are providing a safe environment for our students, but also we just don’t push students out of the classroom where they’re not learning as well,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

What will be different? Well, for starters Walcott said cutting class and cursing will no longer be grounds for suspension.

Neither will smoking, something that left a few parents bewildered.

“If they’re caught on premises that can cause a fire,” Upper West Side resident Gwen Baez said. “I think they should keep suspending for that because the kids need know there is right, wrong and there are consequences.”

Baez said her son has never been suspended, but his friends have.

“[For] being obnoxious, probably, to the teachers,” 14-year-old Brandon Aviles said.

Aviles said he has nothing against the punishment, either.

“It teaches them a lesson and tells them not to do it again,” he said.

For kindergarten through third grade, shoving used to warrant a suspension, but won’t anymore.

“I don’t think suspension should be on the table for shoving in kindergarten. They’re so little, they need to learn,” parent Sharon Kennedy said.

Education law specialist Nelson Mar said the adjustments are a great “first step” toward changing school culture.

“Often times when children are removed for disciplinary measures it has a negative impact on education, so they have a greater likelihood of actually failing their classes and also a greater likelihood of them dropping out,” Mar said.

One mother of two and teacher of parent communication skills agreed.

“Often kids acting out need more support, not less. I think guidance would help the student thrive in school more,” she said.

“Well, I’m still extremely tough when it comes to disruptive students, but our goal is also to make sure if counseling is appropriate we put counseling in place for them and not just suspend. We will do suspensions when merited,” Walcott said.

Vandalism and physical altercations in middle and high school still warrant suspension.

The changes are three years in the making, the result of discussions amongst parents, students, advocates and educators.

Please share your thoughts below…