The Department of Education has revised portions of its disciplinary code to make consequences for poor behavior less strict for the youngest students.
The revisions were made after a heated public hearing and several months of lobbying from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Councilman Robert Jackson, the chair of the council’s education committee. They include the elimination of a type of suspension known as the “superintendent’s suspension,” which requires students to miss six to ten days of school, for students in Kindergarten through third grade.
The second change heralded by the council members was the addition of a strategy for teachers to use to deal with early behavioral problems that calls for a conference with the student, his or her parents, and a social worker. During the conference, the adults would help the student develop an “individual behavior contract” where they will lay out goals for improved behavior and tasks the student should meet to reach those goals.
Jackson said in a statement that he and Quinn pushed for the changes because young elementary school students who miss school are at risk of struggling academically in later years.
“Providing guidance based interventions and eliminating overly harsh punishments for children in the critical grades of K-3, will foster positive behavior and encourage the developmental growth of our students,” he said.