New York State School Boards Association

On Board Online July 1 2019

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Changing district demographics prompt sensitivity trainings

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By Michael Goot
Special Correspondent

Whether students should be allowed to wear a "doo-rag" on their head was a topic of discussion at a recent training for the Brockport Central School District and the College at Brockport. Is it a distraction?

Cephas D. Archie, chief diversity officer for the college, said prohibiting the head gear, which is often worn by African Americans, would be a sign of cultural bias.

Summer school students must be immunized

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By Pilar Sokol
Deputy General Counsel

In the wake of a new state law that eliminated religious exemptions from immunization, three state agencies have issued a joint document that says summer school students must be immunized.

The law, which eliminated non-medical exemptions from immunizations required for school attendance, became effective upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature on June 13.

Be wary of helicopter school board

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

William Miller
NYSSBA President

In my last column, I highlighted the practice of "helicopter governing." I used that term, which is a twist on the popular phrase helicopter parenting, to refer to the well-intentioned but heavy-handed intrusion of government at the state and federal levels to influence even the smallest decisions at the local level.

In this column, I want us to focus our lens inward. Let's talk about helicopter school boards.

Again, it starts with good intentions. In our zeal to fix things or make things right, we school board members can sometimes overstep our bounds and commit the sin of micromanagement.

2019 session comes to a close

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By Julie M. Marlette
Director of Governmental Relations

About 36 hours after the scheduled end of the legislative session, the state Assembly finished their work and adjourned for the year, about seven hours after the Senate completed its work.

As is often the case, the end of session was as notable for what did not happen as what did, some good, some bad.

Assembly drops proposal to create parallel of 3020-a

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

Julie M. Marlette
Director of Governmental Relations

Legislation was introduced and passed the state Senate that would have required public employers, including school districts, to use an independent hearing officer and adhere to the decision of that hearing officer in all disciplinary matters involving civil service employees covered by section 75 of the Civil Service Law.

Is bias training biased?

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By Gayle Simidian
Research Analyst

At a mandatory training event for leaders of New York City schools last year, participants were asked "What lived experience inspires you as a leader to fight for equity?" After a Jewish superintendent recounted how her family suffered during the Holocaust, she was criticized by a colleague for failing to focus the conversation on black students, according to the New York Post.

"This is not about being Jewish!" the colleague said during a break, according to the Post. "It's about black and brown boys of color only. You better check yourself."

State, federal laws require accommodations for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By the New York State Association of School Attorneys

Pursuant to state and federal law, employers including school districts must provide certain accommodations to their workers that allow them to attend to family duties without fear of negatively impacting their job status or opportunities. One category of protected employee, whose entitlement to such accommodations has often been overlooked or misapplied, is nursing mothers.

The applicable laws and amendments were enacted within the past 15 years. Although these statutes are relatively new, school administrators should be familiar with their requirements, which may present scheduling and other issues that may be challenging to address in a school environment.

Governor expected to sign bill expanding lactation protections

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By Joanna M. Caccavo
Jaspan Schlesinger, LLP

The New York Human Rights Law (Executive Law section 296) has long protected "pregnancy-related conditions." However, its applicability to lactation accommodations has been questionable; the state Department of Labor, for example, does not cite the Human Rights Law in its guidance on the subject.

However, both houses of the Legislature have passed a bill (A.5975 / S.4211) to expand the definition of "pregnancy-related conditions" include lactation.

Supporting employee lactation can be complicated

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By Jessica Goldstein
Deputy Director of Policy Services

If it seems like your school district has had more new mothers expressing breast milk at work over the last few years, it probably isn't your imagination.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends feeding babies nothing but breast milk for the first six months. About 60 percent of babies born in New York State in 2015 were still consuming some amount of breast milk at six months, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, echoing U.S. trends.

What boards do over the summer

On Board Online • July 1, 2019

By Mark Snyder
Leadership Development Manager

"It must be so nice to be a teacher and not have to work in the summer!" As a former teacher, I often heard this comment at this time of year, and it always made me cringe. It's hard for people outside of education to appreciate the amount of reflection, planning and preparation that teachers and administrators complete over the summer months.

The summer months can be quite busy - and productive - for school boards as well. Let us count the ways.

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