Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court: New York City Regional Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships

By Michael Cabasso, Susan Imam and Emily de la Vega

On October 18, 2013 the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force held a Summit at New York Law School to discuss the issue of keeping kids in school and out of court.



The Summit was the culmination of four years of work in New York City led by former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye along with Kathleen DeCataldo, the Executive Director of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, and Advocates for Children of New York.  The Task Force is comprised of distinguished community leaders, judges, New York City officials, educators, prosecutors, defense counsel, advocates and researchers who came together in an effort to identify, address, and find solutions for the wide array of problems surrounding school safety and school discipline.  The Summit was further supported by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, with additional funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.

This initiative focuses on schools that frequently use suspensions to discipline students who commit offenses while at school, or where students are the most frequently arrested or given a summons to appear in court. Suspensions often result from altercations, physically aggressive behavior, insubordination, and horseplay. Students are most commonly arrested for misdemeanors, with some students arrested for obstructing governmental administration or resisting arrest. The problem with suspensions and arrests is that they can push students further away from receiving an education.  Furthermore, there have been disproportionate numbers of students of color or with disabilities making up a large number of suspensions and arrests.  … <Read More>

Florida State Colleges Charging Higher Tuition Fees for Children of Illegal Immigrants

In late 2011, a class-action lawsuit was filed in Miami by Florida residents who were being charged out-of-state tuition rates to attend state colleges and universities. The students are American citizens who were born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants. Their claim is that Florida’s regulations violate their constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment.

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Amendment XIV.

The out-of-state tuition is said to be three to four times the cost of in state tuition making it well beyond the reach of many Florida residents whose parents are illegal immigrants.  Following the class-action suit, a bill was proposed that would have given Florida residents regardless of their parents’ immigration status, in-state tution for higher education contingent on them having lived in Florida for at least two years.

The story doesn’t end well for the affected students. In January 2012, the bill died in the Senate’s higher education committee. One concern raised by many Senators was that the bill would open up a loophole for students with parents in other States who could otherwise afford the out-of-state tuition costs.… <Read More>

Foreign affluent families choose NYC public schools week, the New York Times revealed that many affluent foreign families who move to New York are choosing to send their children to public elementary schools in New York City rather than private elementary schools.  Typically, affluent New York families send their children to private elementary schools.  The Times reports that “a large majority of wealthy foreign-born New Yorkers are sending their children to public schools, according to an analysis of census data.”  The data shows that out of the 15,500 households in the city with elementary school-age children that have an income of at least $150,000 and both parents born abroad, 68% of those families send their children only to New York City public schools.

Shockingly, households with American-born parents who have an income of at least $150,000 send their children to public schools at only half the rate of foreign-born families in the same income bracket.  The foreign-born parents claim that the reason they send their children to public schools is because it imitates real life, and that diversity is lacking in the private schools.  Of course, these families are living in affluent NYC neighborhoods, but still choose to send their children to public school.  As a result of this influx of foreign households sending children to NYC public schools, some public elementary schools in wealthier parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn are experiencing an unexpected increase in foreign-born students, especially Western Europeans.

“In interviews, affluent foreign-born New Yorkers said that like all conscientious parents, they weighed various criteria in choosing schools, including quality, cost and location.… <Read More>

A Mentorship Going the Extra Mile





Over a million American students drop out of school each year. Now that statistic is frightening for anyone, let alone an education advocate like myself. So, what can we do? There are a number of ways to decrease the current drop out rate but one particular method that has caught my attention is mentorships. Over the past decade and a half, mentoring has been on the rise in the United States, with close to a quarter of a billion dollars of federal funding devoted to mentoring programs since 2008.

But what exactly is a mentorship? A mentorship is somewhat elusive, but my broadly defined definition would state that a mentorship is a process in which communication between a child and positive adult role model is crucial and through the process a loving, guiding, and supporting relationship unfolds between the child and the role model.

One of the reasons mentoring took off in the 1990s was the publication of a large study about Big Brothers Big Sisters which showed that mentoring over the course of a year or 18 months could help more adolescents avoid negative behaviors including drug and alcohol use, and engaging in violence or disregarding school.

Mentoring programs are designed to work with children who are neglected, withdrawn, depressed or act out aggressively. Some of these mentoring programs make a connection with the child that lasts about nine to eighteen months. I cannot say with confidence that such brief intervention in a child’s life will make a significant difference; a nine to eighteen month crash course on how to deal with extreme emotions is hard enough for an adult to endure, let alone a child.… <Read More>

Public Boarding School: The Seed School and the Model it Created

As a person who attended public schools from K-12, I only knew of boarding schools as being expensive alternatives to private schools. In my suburban community outside of Los Angeles, I only heard of children “being sent away” to boarding schools because they were “problem children.”  However, I never really understood the positive impact a boarding school could have on students and the community the school creates. Until watching the movie Waiting for Superman, the concept of a public boarding school never once crossed my mind. As the movie shows, the Seed School of Washington D.C. is a public charter school serving the community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Similar to other charter schools, the Seed School operates on a lottery system when space permits. However, the Seed School is unique- it is a boarding school, free of cost to those who attend and it is located within D.C., close to the students’ friends and families.  Students are permitted to go home on the weekends to spend time with their family, and during the week every student is involved in various extracirricular activities and experiences that they would never have access to without the Seed School.

As a supporter of many charter schools across the country and especially in New York City, I truly believe that New York City would benefit from creating a charter school that is a boarding school and is within the five boroughs of NYC. Having the boarding school within the City’s limits allows for students to remain part of their communities while being safeguarded from the streets of their communities.… <Read More>