The official who has overseen the Department of Education’s Office of Safety and Youth Development for the last decade is preparing to leave the department.
Elayna Konstan, who helped create the office overseeing student safety and discipline, attendance, bullying prevention, and emergency preparedness in 2004, will retire at the end of January, according to a staff memo. Konstan has led the office since 2007, and oversaw a sharp reduction in student suspensions in her last three years in that role.
In the spring, advocates for restorative justice said Konstan had given her support for more programs that often replace school suspensions with peer mediation and conflict resolution.
Still, advocates have continued to calls for school discipline reforms, pointing to the disproportionate share of suspensions that go to black students and to students with disabilities. And even after a three-year period of marked declines in suspensions, the total number of suspensions given last year was higher than the number given out in the 2001-2002 school year.
In an effort to make New York City schools more supportive for LGBT students, Konstan helped develop the city’s first transgender student guidelines, which included guidelines for the proper use of pronouns and dress policies for transgender students. She also oversaw the integration of the Department of Education into Notify NYC, the system that sends text, email and phone alerts during emergencies.
“While I am very sad to see her go, Elayna has had a long and distinguished career serving our students and I wish her well in her retirement,” Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said in an email to staff.
Konstan began her 40-year career in New York City public schools in 1974 teaching Spanish and English as a second language. She became a special education teacher and then a special education administrator before taking on the assistant superintendent role for District 79 schools.