The news cycle sure moves fast. After being lauded for changes to the city’s discipline code that would ban suspensions in grades K-2, the DeBlasio administration is now getting slammed for what appears to be a “loophole” (a loaded word, in my opinion; better to call it an “exemption”) that would allow certain students to be suspended if “a student has already been removed from the classroom three times during a semester or twice during a trimester.”
This Atlantic/CityLab article sums up the kerfuffle nicely. It seems that the administration has achieved the rare feat of making nobody happy with the changes. Charter school and union leaders are upset that the the DOE is removing what they feel is a necessary tool; restorative justice advocates are claiming that the loophole nullifies any good done by the original change.
I disagree. I think the exemption should remain for extreme cases and should require central approval. Use of the exemption should be tracked to make sure it isn’t abused. But in the end, whether or not there is a possible exemption that would allow schools to suspend students won’t matter until you genuinely get teachers and administrators to see that there are other ways to work productively with students to eliminate maladaptive behaviors. That will only happen with a real and sustained investment in restorative practices.