Over the past few years, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has assisted an increasing number of parents who have contacted them with concerns about charter school suspensions and expulsions. In helping parents with these cases, AFC found that charter school discipline policies were not always readily available.
In this report, AFC sent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the three New York City charter school authorizers and, to the extent possible, charter schools opening in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year seeking, among other things, copies of their discipline policies. Charter schools are required to comply with FOIL requests, and most charter schools responded. From the FOIL responses and charter school websites, AFC was able to review 164 discipline policies from 155 of the 183 charter schools operating in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year. These discipline policies came from large charter school networks as well as from small, independent charter schools.
While charter schools should be able to discipline their students, they must uphold the rights of their students and provide them with a fair discipline process. The Charter Schools Act requires charter school authorizers to ensure that charter applications include discipline policies and procedures that comport with the law. Yet, all three authorizers of New York City charter schools have approved charters for schools that have legally inadequate discipline policies.