New York Students Rally at State Capitol, Demanding an End to Statewide Racial Inequities in School Discipline

Youth Leaders Organize Advocacy Day in Support of New York’s Safe and Supportive Schools Act
February 1, 2019

Albany, NY On Monday, January 28, a group of young high school students stood at the foot of the Million Dollar staircase in the NYS Capitol Building, determined and committed to the fight to eliminate the racial disparities of school discipline outcomes. During this press conference, organized by Urban Youth Collaborative, both legislators and civil rights advocates stood alongside the youth, demanding that the Legislature pass the Judith S. Kaye Safe and Supportive Schools Act.

These young advocates proudly chanted slogans, including “Students, they matter here!” to shed light on this pressing issue. The students presented powerful testimonies, providing their perspectives on why legislators should act now. Assembly sponsors Catherine Nolan, Ellen Jaffee and Nathalia Fernandez, and Senate sponsors Velmanette Montgomery and Julia Salazar, also gave remarks, lauding the young people for their unceasing efforts.

Students, particularly students of color, are often made the victims of unfair and discriminatory suspension practices. The Safe and Supportive Schools Act would facilitate the implementation of the principles of restorative justice in our school systems; it would ban suspensions for students in grades K-3, prohibit the use of suspensions for minor infractions, and limit long-term out of school suspensions to 20 days, down from 180 days.

“It is imperative that the State of New York protect our most vulnerable students and families from discriminatory policies; our children are counting on us,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Deputy Speaker and former Chair of the Education Committee