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UFT calls for disciplinary programs with proven results

“Schools need more alternatives to suspending students,” UFT Director of School Safety David Kazansky said at a public hearing on proposed changes to the citywide discipline code that was held at Stuyvesant HS in Manhattan on June 6.

Testifying before the Department of Education, he urged the city’s school system to dedicate the necessary money and resources — for mental health professionals and guidance counselors, crisis intervention and restorative justice programs — that have a proven track record of improving school safety.

“What our students need and deserve is a real culture change in our schools and the support programs that provide true alternatives to standard discipline,” Kazansky said.

Building a school culture that advances students’ social and emotional learning also creates a strong foundation for their academic achievement, he said.

Kazansky touted the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention System. The UFT introduced training in the system in several schools this year and is seeking to collaborate with the DOE to expand the program in future years.

This program addresses the behaviors and responses of both students and staff in the aftermath of a disruptive incident. After a student is calmed, a life-based interview is conducted so the student can explore what happened and identify negative behavior and alternative options for positive behavior.

Through the program, educators learn more about the causes of students’ negative behavior and students return to class understanding that self-regulation is the key to their success in school and life.

Kazansky also called for professional development for educators so that they can learn to de-escalate challenging situations.

He discussed a new initiative, “Safety in Numbers,” which the UFT will be launching in September to encourage members to officially report all disciplinary incidents, since acknowledging the scope of the problem is integral to finding solutions. The initiative will also include a training module for school staff, students and parents on de-escalation and crisis intervention techniques.

To read Kazansky’s full testimony, visit www.uft.org/testimony.

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