DOE expands De Blasio’s Warning Card Program to all NYC high schools

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Starting this fall, Townsend Harris and all other NYC high schools will be required to implement the NYPD Warning Card Program.

Initially proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, this program gives NYPD officials and school security guards the authority to issue a warning card to students 16 or older who have committed a crime or have been seen with marijuana on school property as an alternative to school-based arrests and court involvement. According to Assistant Principal Ellen Fee, after a warning card has been issued, schools are required to address the issue by providing additional resources, such as guidance counselors and substance abuse support. Ms. Fee stated, “These professionals can help a student navigate through the issues that may have caused the student to possess marijuana in the first place.” However, schools must hold students accountable for their misconduct through the Citywide Behavioral Expectations to Support Learning.

Ms. Fee believes that by enforcing a code of progressive discipline, this program can prevent students from developing a pattern of negative behavior and foster a more positive, secure environment in schools. “No matter what, when a student is struggling, I think that student should be supported with guidance resources and the many mental health resources we offer before getting the criminal justice system involved,” she said.

“I believe the Warning Card will institute a new discipline to pupils. It will instill responsibility for unruly behavior, yet let students redeem themselves,” said freshman Jasmine Palma.

Sophomore Kelly Liok added, “It gives [students] a chance to reflect on their mistakes, own up to it and then recover from it.”

  The Warning Card Program first started in the fall of 2015 in 37 schools. After just one year, this program decreased the rate of summonses by 14%. Since then, it has expanded to 71 NYC schools in total in 2017 and statistics have shown a 7.5% decline in major crime in schools in 2018. The program is now implemented in over 400 schools.

While this program has proven effective in other schools, Ms. Fee explained that it likely won’t impact Townsend Harris on a larger scale because “we don’t have a lot of students in possession of marijuana.” Nonetheless, the administration aims to use the Warning Card Program to help build on THHS’ success as a top ranking school in health and safety.