Schenectady officials aim to lessen ‘over-reliance’ on suspensions – New York News

A plan aimed at lessening school administrators’ “over-reliance” on student suspensions shifts emphasis in the district’s code of conduct away from suspensions and toward “restorative” practices and a new diversion program.

A yet-to-be-finalized revision of the district’s student code of conduct eliminates superintendent’s suspension — an out-of-school suspension of more than five days — as a “possible response” to lower-level code violations, reserving it for the most serious offenses.

The conduct code rewrite also includes the addition of alternative “restorative” consequences that strive to address student behavior in more constructive ways, such as peer mediation or referral to mental-health services.

Superintendent Larry Spring said the district suspends more students than it should and that the updated conduct code “reduces the visibility of suspension.”

“What we are trying to get away from is an over-reliance on suspensions as an automatic response to student behavior,” Spring said.

But Spring also said administrators will still have the authority to suspend students who pose a safety risk to themselves or other students — a threshold standard for when suspension is appropriate, Spring said.

Through the first three quarters of last school year, district administrators had handed out nearly 2,000 separate student suspensions — around one-fifth of the district’s enrollment — ranging from one-day suspensions to bans lasting many weeks. (A full year’s summation of suspensions was not yet available, district officials said.)

The vast majority of those…

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