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  • New York parents and advocates are speaking out against labeling students ‘emotionally disturbed’

    May 13, 2022

    05.12.2022 | Prism Reports | “It’s overly broad. It’s subjective, it’s vague, and once you have subjectivity, you have a greater likelihood of bias,” said Dawn Yuster, Esq., director of the School Justice Project for Advocates for Children. Last year, Advocates for Children released an update to their report, “Police Response to Students in Emotional Crisis: A Call for Comprehensive Mental Health and Social-Emotional Support for Students in Police-Free Schools,” which showed that disabled students—which includes students labeled ED—are more likely to be removed from schools, or restrained by the police and school safety agents. 

    Students with an ED classification are often segregated into District 75, New York City’s designation for classrooms, programs, or entire schools that provide specialized support for disabled students. Advocates for Children’s report found that while District 75 students only make up 2.3% of the public school student population, over 9% “child in crisis” interventions involving the use of handcuffs between 2018 and 2020 happened at a District 75 school. This analysis also notes that during the same period more than one-in-five students handcuffed while in crisis was a District 75 student.

    “Our data suggests that low-income Black students with emotional and behavioral disabilities are disproportionately referred to some District 75 schools where they are segregated from their peers, heavily policed, and may not be receiving the therapeutic support and services that they need,” said Yuster. She went on to explain how students of color are often miscategorized as emotionally disturbed by adding, “a lot of these [disruptive] behaviors are manifestations of woefully deficient services, inappropriate diagnoses, or an unmet academic learning behavioral need.” Read article