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Student Code of Conduct, Policy 5300.00

Introduction

The Board of Education (“Board”) is committed to providing a safe and orderly school environment where students may receive and District personnel may deliver quality educational services without disruption or interference.  Responsible behavior by students, teachers, other District personnel, parents and other visitors is essential to achieving this goal.

The District has a long-standing set of expectations for conduct on school property and at school functions.  These expectations are based on the principles of civility, mutual respect, citizenship, character, tolerance, honesty and integrity.

The Board recognizes the need to clearly define these expectations for acceptable conduct on school property, to identify the possible consequences of unacceptable conduct, and to ensure that discipline when necessary is administered promptly and fairly.  To this end, the Board adopts this Code of Conduct (“Code”).

All employees of the District shall share responsibility for supervising the behavior of students, for seeing that they meet the standards of conduct, and for complying with the rules and regulations established by the Board or its agents.

Effective July 1, 2012, Dignity for All Students Act prohibits discrimination against and harassment of, students based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, and sex by school employees or other students on school property or at a school function.

A requirement of the Dignity Act is for school districts to revise codes of conduct and adopt policies intended to create a school environment free from harassment and discrimination.

The Dignity Act emphasizes the importance of tolerance and respect for others by students and staff alike. Therefore, all members of the school community, including essential partners such as the superintendent, school board members, parents, students, teachers, guidance counselors, principals/administrators, support staff and other school personnel have particularly important roles to play in its implementation.


Definitions

For purposes of this Code, the following definitions apply:

“Disability” shall mean disability as defined in subdivision twenty-one of section two hundred ninety-two of the executive law.

“Disruptive student” means an elementary or secondary student under the age of 21 who is substantially disruptive of the educational process or substantially interferes with the teacher’s authority over the classroom.

“Employee” shall mean employee as defined in subdivision three of section eleven hundred twenty-five of this title.

“Gender” shall mean actual or perceived sex and shall include a person’s gender identity or expression.

“Harassment” shall mean the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being; or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; such conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse includes but is not limited to conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability sexual orientation, gender or sex.

“Parent” means parent, guardian or person in parental relation to a student.

“Removal” means the act of a teacher in discontinuing the presence of the student in his/her  classroom.

“School function” means any school-sponsored extra-curricular event or activity.

“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 a public elementary or secondary school, or in or on a school bus, as defined in Vehicle and Traffic Law §142.

“Sexual orientation” shall mean actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality.

“Suspension” means the act of a Building Principal (or acting building principal or his/her designee; e.g., associate principal), Superintendent of Schools or his/her designee, District Superintendent or Board of Education in discontinuing the presence of a student from his/her regular classes.

“Violent student” means a student under the age of 21 who:

  1. Commits an act of violence upon a school employee, or attempts to do so.
  2. Commits, while on school property or at a school function, an act of violence upon another student or any other person lawfully on school property or at the school function, or attempts to do so.
  3. Possesses, while on school property or at a school function, a weapon.
  4. Displays, while on school property or at a school function, what appears to be a weapon.
  5. Threatens, while on school property or at a school function, to use a weapon.
  6. Knowingly and intentionally damages or destroys the personal property of any school employee or any person lawfully on school property or at a school function.
  7. Knowingly and intentionally damages or destroys school district property.

Note:  A student who seeks to coerce or compel a person to commit a violent act may be considered committing an act of violence.

“Weapon” means a firearm as defined in 18 USC §921 for purposes of the Gun-Free Schools Act.  It also means any other gun, BB gun, pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle, machine gun, disguised gun, dagger, dirk, razor, stiletto, switchblade knife, gravity knife, brass knuckles, sling shot, metal knuckle knife, box cutter, cane sword, electronic dart gun, Kung Fu star, electronic stun gun, pepper spray or other noxious spray, explosive or incendiary bomb, or other device, instrument, material or substance that can cause physical injury or death when used to cause physical injury or death.


Philosophy

The best discipline is that which comes from within.  It is started in the home, is guided through the grade school years with the full and active support of parents or guardians, and gradually becomes a mark of growing up as the student enters the high school years.  At every level, both parents and teachers work together to encourage youngsters to strengthen their self-discipline, self-respect, respect for others, and a sense of common courtesy.  Once these foundations are formed, young adults can begin to develop realistic life goals and appropriately plan for a successful future.

People need structure to exist in a wide variety of social contexts.  Society has established laws, ethical codes, rules of conduct, and the like so we understand our freedoms and limitations.  Essentially, rules and regulations define and insure our freedoms.  The knowledge and understanding of appropriate behaviors allow us to enter society, interact with others in acceptable ways, and thrive.  If we choose to bend or break these accepted codes of behavior, we must also understand that we must face unpleasant consequences for our actions.

Living, working, achieving, and playing the special social structure called “school” requires all of the same courtesies and common sense amenities as are needed elsewhere.  Additionally, because school is a special place, we need special rules to provide appropriate guidance for each of us.

Thus, we in the Warwick Valley Central School District, view the maintenance of discipline as an ongoing process which involves more than just the establishment and execution of a series of policies and punishments.  We work with young adults holistically and are concerned with their mental, emotional and physical states, and maturity levels as well as their observable behavior.  We often seek to involve other staff members (such as other teachers and staff, guidance counselors, school psychologists, the Pupil Personnel Committee, and the administration) when deemed appropriate and are alert to the early identification of student problems and difficulties.  If we suspect that a student’s behavior may be manifestation of a disability, the student shall be referred to the Committee on Special Education for further evaluation.

Thus, we believe that:

  • We have developed sensible rules of conduct which focus on safety and respect for the rights and property of others.
  • Each student should be treated as an individual who can be responsible for his/her own behavior.
  • The learning process is time-intensive, ongoing, and that students will continually grow and mature.
  • People make mistakes and can learn and profit from those mistakes if given the proper setting and support.
  • A clear statement of rules, regulations, rights and responsibilities encourage (rather than restrict) personal freedom.
  • The school’s faculty, staff and administration are ready to assist each student and support the family unit as we work cooperatively to help the individual student find his/her place in society.  To this end, students who have difficulty maintaining appropriate behavior and violate school rules will be required to accept the penalties prescribed by our discipline code.
  • In order to modify unacceptable behavior, disciplinary action, when necessary, will be firm, fair, and consistent.  Discipline is most effective when it deals directly with the problem at the time and place it occurs.  Therefore, before seeking outside assistance, teachers will be encouraged to use all of their resources before referring a student to the administration.
  • Finally, we believe that students will conform to the proper standards of behavior because “it is the right thing to do.”  Self-discipline is, most assuredly, the best from of discipline.

Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC)

The Dignity Act requires that at least one staff member at every school 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, and sex (Education Law§13[3]). This staff member should be referred to as the Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC).


Reporting Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying

The Code of Conduct offers an opportunity to reinforce the importance of reporting incidents of discrimination, harassment, and bullying. The Code of Conduct includes procedures by which violations are reported and determined, and by which disciplinary measures are imposed and implemented.

All individuals are expected to report promptly violations of the code of conduct to an appropriate person, i.e., teacher, guidance counselor, the building principal or his or her designee/administrator.  Any student observing a student possessing a weapon, alcohol or illegal substance on school property or at a school function shall report this information immediately to a teacher, the building principal, the principal’s designee/administrator or the superintendent or his /her designee.

Any weapon, alcohol or illegal substance found shall be confiscated immediately, if possible, followed by notification to the parent of the student involved and the appropriate disciplinary sanction if warranted, which may include permanent suspension and referral for prosecution.

The building principal or his or her designee must notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency of those code violations that constitute a crime and substantially affect the order or security of a school as soon as practical.

Any person having 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 acting reasonably and in good faith, either reports such information to school officials, to the commissioner, or to law enforcement authorities or otherwise initiates, testifies, participates or assists in any formal or informal proceedings under this article, shall have immunity from any civil liability that may arise from the making of such report or from initiating, testifying, participating or assisting in such formal or informal proceedings, and no school district or employee shall take, request or cause a retaliatory action against any such person who, acting reasonably and in good faith, either makes such a report or initiates, testifies, participates or assists in such formal or informal proceedings.


Code of Conduct Publication and Training

As part of ensuring community awareness, the Code of Conduct will be posted on the District website. The district will also provide training to staff and students that specifically highlight the Dignity Act provisions such as the prohibition against discrimination and harassment and the availability of each school’s DAC.


Cross-reference:

  • 5300.20, Student Discipline
  • 5311.3, Student Complaints and Grievances

Adoption date:  June 14, 1993
Revised:  June 25, 2001
Revised:  September 4, 2012