On January 2014, in an unprecedented effort to address harsh practices and racial disproportionality in school discipline (a/k/a “schools to prison pipeline”), the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Education issued joint guidance to all public schools regarding school climate. The guidance cited disproportionately high rates of suspensions and expulsions for minority students, especially African American students, and students with disabilities. The guidance further noted that such exclusionary discipline practices are correlated to a host of negative “educational, economic, and social problems, including school avoidance and diminished educational engagement; decreased academic achievement; increased behavior problems; increased likelihood of dropping out; substance abuse; and involvement with juvenile justice systems.”
Although efforts to end the schools to prison pipeline have mainly focused on traditional disciplinary responses such as removals, suspensions and expulsions, this program will focus on a common practice in the New York City public school district to use emergency medical services (EMS) to intervene with disruptive students. Often these interventions result in the student being transported to the hospital emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation. The presentation will look at the legal issues implicated by these removals including disability discrimination, constitutional law claims and tort liability. In addition the program will explore guidance and best practices regarding a school’s response to a child experiencing an emotional or psychological crisis.
Nelson Mar is a senior staff attorney and education law specialist at Bronx Legal Services. His practice includes both Education Law and Social Security Disability Law with prior experience in labor/employment and community economic development.
Nelson is also the coordinator for the Legal Services NYC’s citywide Education Law Task Force and the current past chair of the Education Law Committee with the New York County Lawyer’s Association (NYCLA). Nelson was a subcommittee member of Mayor de Blasio’s School Climate Leadership Team which produced significant recommendations on improving school climate in New York City’s public schools.
Over the last 15 years Nelson has represented hundreds of families in administrative proceedings before the Social Security Administration and the New York City Department of Education. He has represented individual clients in a wide range of education law issues including special education services, bullying, 504 services, student suspensions and school safety transfers. Also during this time, Nelson worked with numerous parent groups such as local Community Education Councils (CEC’s) and parent action committees to improve school governance and accountability. In 2009 Nelson was honored by District 9’s Community Education Council’s for his active involvement in District 9’s public schools and more recently received the Local Hero Award from the New Settlement Parent Action Committee in 2012. He also was the lead attorney in TH et. al. v. Farina et. al., a federal lawsuit brought by 11 plaintiffs challenging the practice by NYC schools of sending students to hospital emergency rooms for disruptive behaviors.
Nelson received a dual degree JD & MSW from the University at Buffalo and his BA from Binghamton University. He is also a proud product of the NYC public school system graduating from the Bronx High School of Science.
.The lessons learned are applicable to similar situations in the suburban districts surrounding the city
Was not previously aware of depth of this topic. Good presentation
Energetic lecturer packs program with content. It is chock-full of good tips and strategies.
Highly informative. Deeply appreciative for bringing these issues to a CLE
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