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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 more than 45 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 strategies, 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®.

For even more guides and resources, please visit our resource library.

Summary of Changes to the New York City Discipline Code, Effective September 2019
This fact sheet explains the most recent changes to the NYC discipline code.

Frequently Asked Questions: Families of Students with Behavioral, Emotional, or Mental Health Challenges at School
This tip sheet covers who to contact if your child is having behavioral, emotional, or mental health challenges at school, your rights as a parent of a student with a disability, and what your child's school is NOT allowed to do.

Guide to School Discipline
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. 

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).

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 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.  

Policy Work

AFC plays a leadership role in numerous coalitions and task forces in New York City addressing discipline reform, school climate, 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.

AFC also regularly testifies at public hearings and publishes reports that address important issues related to school climate, such as:

first page of data briefPolice Response to Students in Emotional Crisis: A Call for Comprehensive Mental Health and Social-Emotional Support for Students in Police-Free Schools [PDF]
This June 2021 update to our 2017 report explores data on police responses to more than 12,000 'child in crisis' interventions. A disproportionate share of these interventions involved Black students, students attending District 75 special education schools, and students attending schools located in low-income communities of color. The brief calls on the City to end the criminalization of students in emotional crisis by eliminating police from schools and invest in a comprehensive, integrated system of school-wide, multi-tiered behavioral and mental health supports and services.

report cover

Children in Crisis: Police Response to Students in Emotional Distress [PDF]
This November 2017 data brief analyzes data reported by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) showing that Black students are significantly over-represented in NYPD “child in crisis” interventions – incidents involving students in emotional distress sent to the hospital for psychological evaluation. The brief examines the demographic characteristics of students involved in child in crisis interventions, as well as the NYPD’s use of handcuffs on students as young as 5 years old during these incidents between July 2016 and June 2017.


E.B. v. Department of Education 
E.B. v. New York City Department of Education is a federal court case brought against the New York City Department of Education (DOE). This case was settled in 2015 and requires the DOE to take certain steps when students with disabilities are suspended, removed, transferred, or discharged from class or school.

Complaint Filed before the New York State Education Department against the New York City Department of Education 
In 2013, AFC filed a complaint with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) against the DOE for its failure to provide students with disabilities necessary behavioral supports. NYSED's decision affirmed AFC’s claim that the DOE must address students’ behavior using Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) as mandated by law.