Clarification on Suspensions and Disproportionality in the New Rochelle School District

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — There has been some recent confusion on social media about the updated Code of Conduct which was adopted by the New Rochelle Board of Education after a public hearing on June 21, 2016. There have been online discussions stating that “New Rochelle High School” has been “cited more than once” for “disproportionately”.

We wanted to clear that up so we reached out to City School District of New Rochelle Associate Superintendent Diane Massimo.

The confusion revolves around a public acknowledgement of past “disproportionality” at the June meeting. Disproportionality, in this case, refers to the suspensions for Students with Disabilities, specifically Black or African American students, disproportionate to the student population as a whole.

The New York State Education Department informed the City School District of New Rochelle of a citation for disproportionality for the 2012-13 school year during the 2013-14 school year. The District then conducted comprehensive record reviews in 2013-14 and undertook required corrective action in 2014-15.

Among those actions was the creation of Solutions to Suspensions Task Force, the implementation of Crisis Prevention Intervention and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (“PBIS”)

The term “Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports” comes from the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).  PBIS is an approach for “assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for all students based on principles of applied behavior analysis and the prevention approach and values of positive behavior support.”

“The district did an internal review of practices and policies and developed a compliance assurance plan which was submitted to NYSED,” said Massimo. “The plan was reviewed and accepted as verification that the District has identified and resolved the outstanding non-compliance issues.”

“We have taken a pro-active approach and have implemented many restorative practices and continue to do so,” she said.

By law, the District is only required to report publicly if the district is found to be out of compliance. In March 2016, the District was found to be in compliance with the 2012-13 report so no public statement was made (until now, for this article).

According to Massimo, Solutions to Suspensions task force engaged in a careful review of suspension data. The committee’s work has consisted of a review and revision of the Code of Conduct, the initiation of cultural competency training throughout the district, and an increase in the number of District staff trained in non-violent crisis intervention techniques.

Claims on social media that New Rochelle High School was cited are incorrect. NYSED’s 2012-13 finding applied to the District as a whole, not a particular school within the District. The District was cited just the one time, in 2013-14 for the 2012-13 school year not “more than once”.