On May 3, 2023, the Senate held its first of two hearings on S.1040 – the Solutions, Not Suspensions proposed bill. The proposed bill would have a significant impact on building administrators’ use of suspensions. SAANYS has been working with many stakeholders on this bill for several years.
The areas of the legislation most problematic for SAANYS members are:
- prohibition of the use of suspensions in grades Pre-K-3,
- the use of a suspension cap of no more than 20 days,
- prohibition of suspensions for acts of willful disobedience,
- requirement of districts to use a wide range of interventions or programs available prior to suspending a student, without requiring the participation of the student, or consent from the parent/legal guardian,
- lack of funding to meet the requirements of the proposed bill.
Our opposition to these components of the legislation is based on valuable information from our members and our government relations committee. If you recall, SAANYS sent a survey out to all members in December 2022 on this topic. Over 66 percent of the respondents opposed prohibition of suspensions in Pre-K-grade 3, 70 percent opposed a 20-day cap on the days for suspension, and 70 percent opposed prohibition suspension for willful disobedience.
SAANYS is indebted to the presentation of testimony by two of our members: Dr. Gloria Jackson, elementary principal, Brentwood School District and W. Charles Brandy, director of social studies, Buffalo City School District. Their presentations were outstanding and provided the Senate with an excellent perspective on how and when suspensions are used. They pointed out that the first goal is always to keep students in school, they discussed the types of strategies used prior to a suspension being issued, and what specific incidences required the use of suspensions. Dr. Jackson and Mr. Brandy were asked many questions from the senators and again provided compelling information on this topic. Many thanks to Dr. Jackson and Mr. Brandy for their dedicated work on this testimony and their professionalism on this complex issue.
Along with Dr. Jackson and Mr. Brandy’s presentations, SAANYS submitted written testimony on suspensions, which can be found here.
The link to the entire hearing may be found at: https://www.nysenate.gov/calendar/public-hearings/may-03-2023/joint-public-hearing-examine-school-policies-related-discipline
Should you have any questions or comments regarding the SAANYS testimony or general comments on this topic, please feel free to contact Cindy Gallagher at email@example.com or by calling 518 782-0600.