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Read Glen's Story

Glen was repeatedly suspended from school for minor offenses that were related to his disability.

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Who We Serve

Students Facing Disciplinary Issues

Students Facing Disciplinary Issues

Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has 40 years of experience assisting students who are being removed from school for disciplinary reasons. When a student is facing a school suspension or expulsion, AFC works to ensure the student’s rights are not violated. We work with the family to resolve the situation positively, help them understand their options, provide assistance with mediation and free legal representation at school hearings, and ensure the student receives alternative instruction during the period of suspension.  We also advocate for positive alternatives, such as using behavior modification techniques rather than having the student removed from school for an extended period of time.

Guides & Resources

Note: The following resources are in PDF format and will open in a new window. To view PDF files, download the following free software: Get Adobe® Reader®.

Guide to School Suspensions (Also available in Spanish)
This guide explains when a student can be suspended, what happens at a superintendent's suspension hearing, and the student's rights throughout the process. 

Guide to Manifestation Determination Review (MDR): Protections for students with disabilities who face discipline (also available in Spanish)
Students with disabilities have special rights and protections when they are suspended from school or removed from class. One of those rights is a meeting, called a Manifestation Determination Review, that might help your child stay in the current classroom. This guide explains what happens at the meeting and how to prepare.

Guide to the Rights of Children with Behavioral Needs
This guide provides information about the best ways to help students who are experiencing behavioral issues at school.

Positive Interventions for Students with Disabilities: Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) (also available in Spanish)
When students with disabilities have inappropriate behaviors that interfere with their learning or the learning of other students and/or their behavior gets them suspended or removed from class, schools should develop a plan to prevent misbehavior and help students improve their behavior. This fact sheet explains how schools create and use Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) to develop Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs).

School Discipline Policy in a Nutshell (also available in Spanish)
NYC school discipline policy (Chancellor’s Regulation A-443) in a nutshell provides information on intervention and preventive techniques, protection for students with disabilities, and teacher removal of students from classroom.  

Summary of Changes to the New York City Discipline Code, Effective April 2017
This fact sheet explains the most recent changes to the NYC discipline code.

Guide to Charter School Discipline 
This guide explains discipline for charter school students, what to do if your child has been suspended from a charter school, how to appeal a charter school's suspension decision, and your rights throughout the process. The guide also includes information for families of students with disabilities who have been suspended.  


Did You Know?

Punitive discipline, such as suspension and expulsion, disproportionately targets students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students.

Policy Work

We play a leadership role in numerous coalitions and task forces in New York City addressing discipline reform and educational services for ALL youth, including the School-Justice Partnership Taskforce, chaired by the former Chief Judge of New York State, Judith Kaye.  AFC worked with Judge Kaye and the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children to launch the Task Force and continues to help coordinate the project.  The Task Force brought together key stakeholders and experts from a variety of disciplines to coordinate efforts and develop recommendations to promote school engagement and reduce the flow of New York City students entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems. On May 30, 2013, the Task Force released a report, Keeping Kids in School and out of Court [PDF]. The report outlines a plan of action  as well as provides specific recommendations to keep kids in school and out of court.

AFC also advocates for systemic reform with respect to school discipline and the role of New York Police Department personnel in schools. AFC is a co-founder and steering committee member of The Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York (DSC-NY), a coalition of students, parents, advocates and educators calling for positive, school-wide approaches to discipline that improve school climate and increase learning.  Our goal is to create safe and supportive school climates in all New York City public schools without the need for school police or metal detectors, where young people are not suspended and removed from class, and where teachers and students have training and support to prevent and resolve conflicts in positive ways.


Advocates for Children of New York filed a complaint with the New York State Education Department against the NYC Department of Education (DOE) for its failure to provide students with disabilities necessary behavioral supports as mandated by law. Providing these supports has been shown to decrease behaviors that often result in removing students from the classroom and/or suspending students.

Read the complaint.

Read the press release [PDF].