Resilient Kids, Safer Schools

children and a teacher talking

Students do better when they feel protected and supported in the classroom.

In the 2019-20 school year, we will introduce a new framework for teaching students how to resolve conflict, build relationships, and keep our school communities safe.

We’re doubling down on an approach that we know works—giving our teachers the resources to support our students' social-emotional skills and well-being, and, as a result, reducing our reliance on suspensions or punitive discipline. If students learn how to resolve conflicts and build relationships with each other and staff, they are less likely to act out.

More information about student supports by grade level, below:

Elementary School Supports

All elementary schools will receive support to teach their students how to develop healthy relationships through Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula. SEL has been proven to improve students’ academic performance by prioritizing communication, empathy and problem solving.

Building on principles and practices already used in our Pre-K programs, teachers from 3K – 5th grade will receive training and materials to help students grow their emotional and social skills. Activities like daily meet-ups between students and a “buddy-up” system will help children to learn how to get along with others.

Offering these lessons in elementary school allows students to build on the foundation and better develop during formative years.

The Department of Education will offer the SEL curriculum in partnership with National University System’s Sanford Harmony program.

Middle and High School Supports

Middle schools across the city will reinforce SEL tenets by implementing Restorative Justice Practices. Restorative Justice Practices de-emphasize the reliance on solely traditional discipline and punishment. Instead, students are also encouraged to activate SEL skills by focusing on emotion identification, conflict resolution and problem solving.

The use of these skills become part of a school’s daily practice. Students are taught to become leaders in their lives, and adults are trained in the restorative framework, recognizing that outside factors often have significant impacts on a students’ day-to-day response and those responses must be addressed through multiple approaches.

Additionally, 50 of the City’s middle schools will take part in Positive Learning Collaborative (PLC) programming, a restorative approach to school climate. PLC is designed to help every adult in a school—from teachers to custodians to principals—cultivate strong relationships with students so school communities can short-circuit many problems before they start, and prevent others from escalating.

Our PLC programming was developed in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers.

Discipline Code

See below for the proposed changes to the Citywide Behavioral Expectations to Support Student Learning (also known as the DOE Discipline Code). These changes will limit suspensions to fewer than 20 days in most cases, except in the case of violent acts or where required by federal law, and include updates to supports, interventions, and other clarifications.

These proposed changes will build on existing strategies developed by the DOE’s Division of School Climate and Wellness that have already reduced the average DOE suspension from three weeks to two. We will issue refreshed guidance and training for school communities on classroom removal of students.

You and your community’s input is essential to developing a Discipline Code that creates a safe and supportive environment for all students and staff in the DOE. We encourage you to invite your teachers, school administrators, student leaders, parents, and community partners to the two-hour engagement sessions. While registration is recommended, it is not required. Please see below for additional information:

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Citywide Reforms

We have made other reforms impacting issues like mental health and the role of police.

NYPD-DOE Memorandum of Understanding

A new NYPD-DOE Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governing police engagement in schools was adopted after a three-year collaborative process. The MOU clarifies the roles of the NYPD and the DOE in addressing school misconduct. It stresses our joint commitment to ensuring that schools are safe havens for students.

NYPD Patrol Guide

We changed the police patrol guide, given to all NYPD patrol officers, to significantly limit in-school arrests for low-level offenses, and limits allowable circumstances for in-school arrests to felony crimes, sex offenses, crime where there is an immediate risk of escape, and similar situations.

The guide also reiterates that—in case of an in-school arrest—a principal or similarly trusted adult staff member will serve as the in-school student advocate until a parent or guardian arrives.

85 Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Thanks to the New York City Council, through ThriveNYC, we will create a new unit of 85 licensed clinical social workers to better support students facing crises. The social workers will be able to provide students care in times of immediate emotional distress and help them receive long-term care if necessary. The increased presence of social workers will also reduce the need for school staff to call emergency services.

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