Dignity for All Students
The Board of Education recognizes that learning environments that are safe and supportive can increase student attendance and improve academic achievement. A student’s ability to learn and achieve high academic standards, and a school’s ability to educate students, is compromised by incidents of discrimination or harassment, including but not limited to bullying, taunting and intimidation. Therefore, in accordance with the Dignity for All Students Act, Education Law, Article 2, the District will strive to create an environment free of discrimination and harassment and will foster civility in the schools to prevent and prohibit conduct which is inconsistent with the District’s educational mission.
The District condemns and prohibits all forms of discrimination and harassment of students based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex by school employees or students on school property and at school-sponsored activities and events that take place at locations off school property. In addition, any act of discrimination or harassment, outside of school sponsored events, which can reasonably be expected to materially and substantially disrupt the education process may be subject to discipline.
Dignity Act Coordinator
At least one (1) employee at every school shall be designated as the Dignity Act Coordinator(s). The Dignity Act Coordinator(s) will be thoroughly trained to handle human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (identity or expression) and sex. The Board of Education shall appoint the Dignity Act Coordinator(s) and share the name(s) and contact information with all school personnel, students, and parents/persons in parental relation.
If a Dignity Act Coordinator vacates his/her position, another school employee shall immediately be designated for an interim appointment as Coordinator, pending approval from the Board of Education, within thirty (30) days of the date the position was vacated. In the event a Coordinator is unable to perform the duties of the position for an extended period of time, another school employee shall immediately be designated for an interim appointment as Coordinator, pending return of the previous Coordinator to the position.
Training will be provided each school year for all District employees in conjunction with existing professional development training to raise staff awareness and sensitivity of harassment and discrimination directed at students that are committed by students or school employees on school property or at a school function. Training will include ways to promote a supportive school environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, emphasize positive relationships, and demonstrate prevention and intervention techniques to assist employees in recognizing and responding to harassment and discrimination, as well as ensuring the safety of the victims.
Instruction in grades Kindergarten through 12 shall include a component on civility, citizenship and character education. Such component shall instruct students on the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, respect for others, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, dignity and other traits which will enhance the quality of their experiences in, and contributions to, the community. For the purposes of this policy, “tolerance,” “respect for others” and “dignity” shall include awareness and sensitivity to discrimination or harassment and civility in the relations of people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, genders and sexes.
Rules against discrimination and harassment will be included in the Code of Conduct, publicized District-wide and disseminated to all staff and parents. An age-appropriate summary shall be distributed to all students at a school assembly at the beginning of each school year.
Reports and Investigations of Discrimination and Harassment
The District will investigate all complaints of harassment and discrimination, either formal or informal, and take prompt corrective measures, as necessary. Complaints will be investigated in accordance with applicable policies and regulations. If, after an appropriate investigation, the District finds that this policy has been violated, corrective action will be taken in accordance with District policies and regulations, the Code of Conduct, and all appropriate federal or state laws.
The District will annually report material incidents of discrimination and harassment to the State Education Department as part of the Uniform Violent and Disruptive Incident Reporting System (VADIR).
Prohibition of Retaliatory Behavior (Commonly Known as “Whistle-Blower” Protection)
Any person who has reasonable cause to suspect that a student has been subjected to discrimination or harassment by an employee or student, on school grounds or at a school function, who acts reasonably and in good faith and reports such information to school officials or law enforcement authorities, shall have immunity from any civil liability that may arise from making such report. The Board prohibits any retaliatory behavior directed at complainants, victims, witnesses and/or any other individuals who participated in the investigation of a complaint of discrimination or harassment.
Code of Conduct on School Property
The District has developed and will amend, as appropriate, a written Code of Conduct for the Maintenance of Order on School Property, including school functions, which shall govern the conduct of students, teachers and other school personnel, as well as visitors and/or vendors. The Board of Education shall further provide for the enforcement of such Code of Conduct.
For purposes of this policy, and the implemented Code of Conduct, school property means in or within any building, structure, athletic playing field, playground, parking lot or land contained within the real property boundary line of the District’s elementary or secondary schools, or in or on a school bus; and a school function shall mean a school-sponsored extracurricular event or activity regardless of where such event or activity takes place, including those that take place in another state.
The District Code of Conduct has been developed in collaboration with student, teacher, administrator, and parent organizations, school safety personnel and other school personnel.
The Code of Conduct shall include, at a minimum, the following:
a) Provisions regarding conduct, dress and language deemed appropriate and acceptable on school property and at school functions, and conduct, dress and language deemed unacceptable and inappropriate on school property,· provisions regarding acceptable civil and respectful treatment of teachers, school administrators, other school personnel, students and visitors on school property and at school functions; the appropriate range of disciplinary measures which may be imposed for violation of such Code; and the roles of teachers, administrators, other school personnel, the Board of Education and parents/persons in parental relation to the student;
b) Provisions prohibiting discrimination and harassment against any student, by employees or students on school property or at a school function, that creates a hostile environment by conduct, with or without physical contact and/or verbal threats, intimidation or abuse, of such a severe nature that:
1. Has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional and/or physical well-being; or
2. Reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his/her physical safety.
Such conduct shall include, but is not limited to, threats, intimidation, or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practices, disability, sexual orientation, gender as defined in Education Law Section 11 (6), or sex; provided that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit a denial of admission into, or exclusion from, a course of instruction based on a person’s gender that would be permissible under Education Law Sections 3201-a or 2854(2) (a) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 USC Section 1681, et seq.), or to prohibit, as discrimination based on disability, actions that would be permissible under 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
c) Standards and procedures to assure security and safety of students and school personnel;
d) Provisions for the removal from the classroom and from school property, including a school function, of students and other persons who violate the Code;
e) Provisions prescribing the period for which a disruptive student may be removed from the classroom for each incident, provided that no such student shall return to the classroom until the Principal (or his/her designated School District administrator) makes a final determination pursuant to Education Law Section 3214(3-a)(c) or the period of removal expires, whichever is less;
f) Disciplinary measures to be taken for incidents on school property or at school functions involving the use of tobacco, the possession or use of illegal substances or weapons, the use of physical force, vandalism, violation of another student’s civil rights, harassment and threats of violence;
g) Provisions for responding to acts of discrimination and harassment against students by employees or students on school property or at a school function pursuant to clause (b) of this subparagraph;
h) Provisions for detention, suspension and removal from the classroom of students, consistent with Education Law Section 3214 and other applicable federal, state and local laws, including provisions for school authorities to establish procedures to ensure the provision of continued educational programming and activities for students removed from the classroom, placed in detention, or suspended from school, which shall include alternative educational programs appropriate to individual student needs;
i) Procedures by which violations are reported and determined, and the disciplinary measures imposed and carried out;
j) Provisions ensuring the Code of Conduct and its enforcement are in compliance with state and federal laws relating to students with disabilities;
k) Provisions setting forth the procedures by which local law enforcement agencies shall be notified of Code violations which constitute a crime;
l) Provisions setting forth the circumstances under and procedures by which parents/persons in parental relation to the student shall be notified of Code violations;
m) Provisions setting forth the circumstances under and procedures by which a complaint in criminal court, a juvenile delinquency petition or person in need of supervision (“PINS”) petition as defined in Articles 3 and 7 of the Family Court Act will be filed;
n) Circumstances under and procedures by which referral to appropriate human service agencies shall be made;
o) A minimum suspension period for students who repeatedly are substantially disruptive of the educational process or substantially interfere with the teacher’s authority over the classroom, provided that the suspending authority may reduce such period on a case-by-case basis to be consistent with any other state and federal law. For purposes of this requirement, as defined in Commissioner’s Regulations, “repeatedly is substantially disruptive of the educational process or substantially interferes with the teacher’s authority over the classroom” shall mean engaging in conduct which results in the removal of the student from the classroom by teacher(s) pursuant to the provisions of Education Law Section 3214(3-a) and the provisions set forth in the Code of Conduct on four ( 4) or more occasions during a semester, or three (3) or more occasions during a trimester, as applicable;
p) A minimum suspension period for acts that would qualify the student to be defined as a violent student pursuant to Education Law Section 3214(2-a)( a). However, the suspending authority may reduce the suspension period on a case-by-case basis consistent with any other state and federal law;
q) A Bill of Rights and Responsibilities of Students which focuses upon positive student t
behavior and a safe and supportive school climate, which shall be written in plain language, and which shall be publicized and explained in an age-appropriate manner to all students on an annual basis; and
r) Guidelines and programs for in-service education programs for all District staff members to ensure effective implementation of school policy on school conduct and discipline, including but not limited to, guidelines on promoting a safe and supportive school climate while discouraging, among other things, discrimination or harassment against students by students and/or school employees; and including safe and supportive school climate concepts in the curriculum and classroom management.
The District’s Code of Conduct has been shall be adopted by the Board of Education only after at least one (1) public hearing that provided for the participation of school personnel, parents/persons in parental relation, students, and any other interested parties.
The District’s Code of Conduct shall be reviewed on an annual basis, and updated as necessary in accordance with law. The District may establish a committee pursuant to Education Law Section 2801(5)(a) to facilitate review of its Code of Conduct and the District’s response to Code of Conduct violations. The School Board shall reapprove any updated Code of Conduct or adopt revisions only after at least one (1) public hearing that provides for the participation of school personnel, parents/persons in parental relation, students, and any other interested parties. The District shall file a copy of its Code of Conduct and any amendments with the commissioner, in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, no later than thirty (30) days after their respective adoptions.
The Board of Education shall ensure community awareness of its Code of Conduct by:
a) Posting the complete Code of Conduct on the Internet website, if any, including any annual updates and other amendments to the Code;
b) Providing copies of a summary of the Code of Conduct to all students in an age-appropriate version, written in plain language, at a school assembly to be held at the beginning of each school year;
c) Providing a plain language summary of the Code of Conduct to all parents or persons in parental relation to students before the beginning of each school year and making the summary available thereafter upon request;
d) Providing each existing teacher with a copy of the complete Code of Conduct and a copy of any amendments to the Code as soon as practicable following initial adoption or amendment of the Code. New teachers shall be provided a complete copy of the current Code upon their employment; and
e) Making complete copies available for review by students, parents or persons in parental relation to students, other school staff and other community members.
As part of any investigation, the District has the right to search all school property and equipment including District computers. Rooms, desks, cabinets, lockers, computers, etc. are provided by the District for the use of staff and students, but the users do not have exclusive use of these locations or equipment and should not expect that materials stored therein will be private.
Civility, Citizenship and Character Education / Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education
Civility, Citizenship and Character Education
The Board of Education recognizes that teaching students respect, civility and understanding toward others, as well as the practice and reinforcement of appropriate behavior and values of our society, is an important function of the School System.
The School District wishes to foster an environment where students exhibit behavior that promotes positive educational practices, allows students to grow socially and academically, and encourages healthy dialogue in respectful ways. By presenting teachers and staff as positive role models, the District stresses positive communication and discourages disrespectful treatment. This policy is not intended to deprive and/or restrict any student of his/her right to freedom of expression but, rather, seeks to maintain, to the extent possible and reasonable, a safe, harassment free and educationally conducive environment for our students and staff.
Furthermore, the District shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades K through 12 includes a component on civility, citizenship and character education in accordance with Education Law. Character education is the deliberate effort to help students understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values.
Character education shall instruct students on the principles of:
c) Personal responsibility;
d) Respect for others;
e) Awareness and sensitivity to discrimination and/or harassment as defined in the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA);
f) Civility in relation to people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientations, genders or sexes;
g) Observance of laws and rules;
h) Courtesy; and
i) Dignity, and other traits which will enhance the quality of students’ experiences in, and contributions to, the community.
As determined by the Board of Regents, and as further enumerated in Commissioner’s Regulations, the components of character education shall be incorporated in existing School District curricula as applicable.
The District encourages the involvement of staff, students, parents and community members in the implementation and reinforcement of character education in the schools.
Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education
The District will utilize the interpersonal violence prevention education package provided by the State Education Department. These materials will be incorporated as part of the health or other related curricula or programs for students in grades K through 12.