Earlier this March, RAP’s YouthVoiceNYC Youth Advisory Council hosted Solutions not Suspensions, a panel discussion aimed at exploring the disconcertingly high number of school suspensions amongst high school students in NYC.
Lawyer Nick Sheehan of Advocates for Children of New York joined Joshua Riegel, Director of the NYU’s Suspension Representation Project, and current Clara Barton High School student Ayana Gordon on the panel. The discussion was moderated by 17-year-old RAP Board member Hurmat Hashmi also of Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn. Sandip Chattopadhyay also of Clara Barton gave the opening remarks.
Panelists discussed the question of whether heightened security measures, such as metal detectors and high rates of suspension in schools make students feel safer. The consensus among the panelists and audience members was that these strategies do not actually make students feel safer. Other themes discussed included the training of school safety officers, and the roots of perceived misbehavior by students.
During the robust panel discussion and Q&A, panelists and audience members discussed the effectiveness of school safety measures like metal detectors and suspensions, the impact of race and socioeconomic status on school disciplinary actions, and alternatives to suspensions that are being explored in other cities. Additionally, audience member Joshua Laub, who works for the Department of Education, brought up how the suspension review process can be humiliating and intimidating for kids, and how that can deter students from participating or acting as witness in hearings.
Check out the event’s Education Forum Follow-Up 1-Pager, highlighting key themes, resources, and ways to get involved with the Youth Advisory Council around this issue! Photo by Farudh Majid