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Officials Blame Rise In Classroom Chaos On Dramatic Drop In NYC School Suspensions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's been a dramatic drop in school suspensions in New York City, and some say it's led to chaos in the classroom.

A new study shows suspensions have plunged 50 percent and now critics are asking why educators are so reluctant to dole out discipline.

On the outside, the Magnet School in Cambria Heights, Queens looks peaceful enough, but according to State Senator Leroy Comrie (D-14th) it's one of several schools in his district suffering from a crisis in parent confidence.

"They're taking their children to other schools even if they have to pay for private schools," he told CBS2.

Comrie claims it's happening in around 40 percent of the schools in his district, blaming the parent flight on a lack of school discipline.

"They don't want to have to have their children in an environment where they're assaulted and there's no accountability," Comrie said.

The local lawmaker pointed to a new study from John Jay College's Data Collaborative for Justice that shows a dramatic 49 percent drop in school suspensions, which fell from a high of 63,635 during the 2010-2011 school year to just 32,331 in 2016-2017.

"They need to look at the in-house suspension program and change it," Comrie said. "There has to be some kind of positive discipline that can happen... they need to be separated from the school population."

Teamsters President Gregory Floyd, who represents school safety officers, agrees.

"There's chaos in our schools and it's going to get worse," he said. "The children know they can get away with everything."

Floyd says the softening of discipline began with a DeBlasio administration policy started several years ago that issued warning cards instead of criminal summonses.

"Parents should be outraged," Floyd said. "They should be horrified and outraged."

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza says the drop in school suspensions is a good thing, because educators need to focus on keeping students in the classroom.

"What we don't want is to put students on a school to prison pipeline," Carranza said. "The minute you put a student into the criminal justice system you've started him on a path. We're educators, we're about preventing students from having that kind of a track record."

The mission, instead, is "redirecting student behavior giving students different ways to not only behave but behave in a social environment."


Two years ago, the DOE updated its discipline code to reduce the length of suspensions. It's also spent millions on anti-bullying initiatives and hiring more mental health consultants and social workers.

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