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Queens lawmaker wants to limit school suspensions to help keep kids out of jail

State Senator Jessica Ramos speaks in favor of suspension reform at the state capitol in Albany New York. ( Photo courtesy of Make the Road NY)

Queens State Senator Jessica Ramos joined advocates in Albany on Monday to urge the passage of a bill that would restrict how principals use suspensions as part of an effort to end the school-to-prison pipeline. 

The bill, called the Judith Kaye Schools Solutions not Suspension Act, was introduced last year by Brooklyn state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and calls placing a cap on 20-day long school suspensions.

If passed, the legislation would also prohibit schools from suspending kindergarten through third grade students; requires schools to use suspension as a last restore; implement system-wide restorative practices; and prohibit student suspensions over “acts of willful disobedience.”

“It is not fair that we continuously penalize students for perhaps learning in different ways, for having a different understanding and a different experience of the world,” Ramos said during the rally inside the capitol. “What we need really is to make sure that we are nurturing our kids… and keeping them away from the prison industrial complex. “

About 90 percent of out-of-school suspensions were issued to Black or Hispanic students in 2018, according to report from the city’s Independent Budget Office and Black students are more likely to receive harsher punishments and longer suspensions than another other race. 

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