The Suspension Representation Project represents New York City public school students in suspension hearings. Our Advocates are law students attending NYC law schools. SRP pairs new law student advocates with experienced law student advocates in its attempt to provide excellent training for law students and excellent advocacy for clients. SRP routinely helps to shorten the length of the suspension or eliminate the suspension, helping kids stay in school.
SRP also partners with community organizations to advocate for justice in schools.
In New York City, the number of superintendent’s suspensions increased by more than 76 percent between 2000 and 2005, jumping from 8,567 to 15,090. A report by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) found that the NYC schools with the most punitive disciplinary policies are overwhelmingly under-resourced, overcrowded, and primarily attended by low-income students of color. Youth who are suspended from school are more likely to fall behind in school, be retained a grade, and drop out.
Whenever a student faces a superintendent’s suspension, a hearing is scheduled to determine whether the student engaged in the incident as charged and, if so, the appropriate disciplinary measures. Parents have the right to bring a representative to the hearing. However, currently, in NYC, there are very few professionals who represent students in suspension hearings. The vast majority of families are unrepresented at their students’ suspension hearings.
History of SRP
NYU students formed SRP in 2007 to help address the tremendous unmet need for no cost, high quality representation at suspension hearings. Law students throughout New York City were eager to get involved. In 2009, SRP grew to include chapters at Brooklyn Law School and the City University of New York School of Law; by the spring of 2011, chapters had been established at Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, Columbia Law School, Fordham Law School.
In addition, in the fall of 2011, the NYCDOE added SRP to the list of legal and advocacy organizations included in the suspension notification packets mailed out to families each time a student is charged with a Superintendent’s suspension.
SRP’s mission is to safeguard the right to public education by providing high quality advocacy services to New York City public school students facing Superintendent’s suspensions. In order to provide both excellent training for our law student advocates and excellent advocacy for the families we serve, SRP pairs new advocates with an experienced student advocate and a 3L Advisor. SRP advocates develop meaningful legal skills—including interviewing clients and conducting direct- and cross- examinations—and SRP’s clients gain valuable assistance and support.
SRP advocates have had remarkable success in helping to get their clients’ charges dismissed or their suspension time reduced. In the 2019-2020 school year, SRP advocates helped achieve a favorable outcome (i.e., charges dismissed or reduced, or less suspension time than the school requested) in over 50% of our cases.