A student at the Adlai Stevenson HS complex in The Bronx was caught in October with seven baggies of marijuana — a violation that in prior years would have resulted in a criminal summons and a suspension. Instead, a school safety officer handed the student a “warning card.” It asked politely: “Please bring this card home to your parent(s)/guardian so that you can discuss the matter with them.” The pot was turned over to the NYPD, but the student’s name was listed as “John Doe.”
The NY Post reports that this is the brave new world of school discipline in New York City, where unruly kids rule. And since a “warning card” is oh, so serious, “They know they can get away with anything,” as several teachers put it.
The reason for these new discipline rules? Under a new discipline code launched by Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education, inappropriate clothes, profanity and insubordination no longer trigger an automatic boot from the classroom. The Chancellor of the New York DOE is Carmen Farina, who was appointed by De Blasio.
And in any good government bureaucracy, principals must get permission from the DOE’s Office of Safety and Youth Development before suspending a student for defying a teacher or other authority. “Minor physical altercations” no longer warrant a serious superintendent’s suspension.
As a result, suspensions by principals and superintendents dropped 17 percent citywide from 53,504 in 2013-14 to 44,626 in 2014-15.
The warning cards are being tested in a pilot program, launched during the summer of 2015 at 37 high schools, in partnership with the NYPD, the DOE said. The warning cards go to students who engage in disorderly conduct such as yelling, cursing, fighting and assaults, or unlawful possession of marijuana.
At Lehman HS, a student caught smoking pot in the restroom got a warning card. The slip states, “You have committed a violation that could have resulted in the issuance of a criminal-court summons. You are receiving this warning card to give you an opportunity to correct your behavior within the school.”(You know the kids are laughing at this.)
It goes on to warn that a future violation “may result in your arrest,” and that the incident “has been referred to the school administration.” It then asks the student to bring the card home to his or her parents — although that’s not required (that’ll teach them!). A DOE spokeswoman said schools “ensure that parents are apprised of all incidents” with a phone call.
The NYPD employees who safeguard schools worry that the policy handcuffs them and encourages misbehavior. “This type of turning your back on illegal behavior is grooming criminals,” said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, which represents school safety officers. He says students who get warning cards should have to pass a class on behavior, instead of getting off with a slap on the wrist. “The mayor is saying crime is down in the schools,” Floyd said. “Crime is not disappearing. It’s just that we’re ignoring it.”
When the “warning card” program was initiated, Mayor de Blasio said the new policies would “treat students of every background with dignity.” Sounds like code for “social justice” to me.
And in typical liberal doublespeak fashion, de Blasio also said, “No parent should have to choose between a school that’s safe for their child and a school where every student is treated fairly.”
Read the rest of the details here.