On Board Online • April 14, 2014
By Courtney Sanik Read the entire article>>
Annually reviewing your district’s code of conduct is not only a legal requirement, but an opportunity for your school board to be sure it is conveying what it expects of students and others on school grounds and at school functions. The code of conduct is considered a board policy and offers a powerful opportunity to communicate messages to the school community about the values of your school district and school climate.
The legal requirements, set forth in section 2801 of the Education Law and commissioner’s regulations (8 NYCRR Section100.2 (l)(2)), involve what needs to be contained in the policy, how it should be developed and adopted, and specific requirements for dissemination.
Your district’s code of conduct can be broken down into 10 general areas including students’ rights and responsibilities, how to report violations, disciplinary procedures and rules for visitors (see sidebar).
Many boards incorporate additional information or policy elements such as a separate section on definitions or information on search, seizure, and interrogations. Some specifically address corporal punishment. Although NYSSBA’s Policy Department views such elements as desirable if not essential in a comprehensive code of conduct, they are not required.
School boards must also pay attention to requirements regarding the development of the code of conduct, which boards have the exclusive authority to adopt and amend. However, since 2000, the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education legislation (Project SAVE) has required boards to develop the code in collaboration with student, teacher, administrator, and parent organizations, as well as school safety personnel and other school personnel.
NYSSBA’s Policy Department believes that involving students in this process is an asset. “In any environment with rules, people are more likely to adhere if they feel that they were represented as the rules were developed,” said Linda Bakst, NYSSBA’s deputy director for policy services.