New York State School Boards Association

On Board Online September 3 2018

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Newly-appointed supts likely first-timers

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

The next time your school district hires a new superintendent, it's likely the person hired will never have been a superintendent before.

A NYSSBA analysis found that 77 percent of superintendents appointed so far in 2018 were first-time superintendents. A similar analysis of 2017 data showed that 81 percent of newly-hired superintendents were first-timers.

Hamburg CSD trains all staff in 'Mental Health First Aid'

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Pauline Liu
Special Correspondent

As the Hamburg Central School District begins a new school year, all 650 employees have completed training in "Mental Health First Aid." The purpose? To make sure that no student will have to face a social-emotional crisis alone.

"We were taught to spot signs of kids in distress," said maintenance mechanic Ken Selby, who completed a full-day training course in June.

More than apple picking

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By William Miller
NYSSBA President

Fall is often associated with many things: apple picking, the beginning of football season and leaves changing color.

But when you serve on a school board, fall really only means one thing: back to school.

Soon, students will be roaming the hallways of our schools, with their backpacks in tow, filling their lockers with books and personal items and meeting their new teachers for the first time. The new school year is always filled with potential. For students, there are new subjects to learn, new friends to meet and new activities to enjoy.

ERS rates continue downward trend

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

The rate school districts will have to pay to the state Employees' Retirement System (ERS) in 2019-20 will decrease slightly from the 2018-19 rate, the state comptroller's office announced.

The employer contribution rate for 2019-20 will be 14.6 percent of employee payroll, down from 14.9 percent in 2018-19. ERS covers non-instructional school district employees such as food service workers, custodians and secretaries.

8 lessons about implementing restorative practices

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Courtney Sanik
Senior Policy Consultant

Teachers and administrators from across the state recently came to Latham, not far from NYSSBA headquarters, for a four-day training on a promising approach to student discipline called restorative justice. The approach encourages students to hear from those harmed and take responsibility for "what happened." (Using this phrase is part of the culture shift to a more neutral conversation.)

The building blocks of restorative justice are techniques called "restorative practices." Successful use of restorative practices can result in fewer suspensions and a healthier school climate.

Less punishment in schools begins with relationship-building State sponsors training on restorative justice, seen as alternative to suspensions

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

As a roomful of principals, teachers and school social workers sat in circles of six or eight, they took turns sharing bits of personal information about themselves: "I play guitar in a band," "I have four grandchildren," and "I'm a guy who loves cats." It was hard, at first, to see what the exercise had to do with the subject of the training: "restorative justice."

Restorative justice, after all, is best known among school people as an idea that opens up alternatives to suspensions and other traditional forms of punishment for misbehavior in school, including bullying, verbal abuse, violence and other disruptions.

English as a New Language students benefit from 5-week Summer Academy

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Tammy Cilione
Ulster Boces Community Relations

The summer break was a time of continual learning and educational enrichment for 15 Saugerties elementary school children who participated in a five-week English as a New Language (ENL) Summer Academy.

ENL teacher Christa Dedrick has taught at the summer program since its inception three years ago. In addition to preventing "summer slide" (a common learning loss that occurs among students over the summer) and building stronger language skills, Dedrick said that the program also included activities that celebrated diversity and culture.

Court permits late notice of claim in harassment case

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Kimberly A. Fanniff
Senior Staff Counsel

When students and their parents are dissatisfied with how a school district has handled complaints of harassment or bullying, they may assert that the district failed to adhere to the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). However, DASA does not contain any provisions that establish a private right of action (or, in layman's terms, a right to sue).

Nevertheless, students or parents sometimes file lawsuits asking courts to intervene in cases in which schools allegedly ignored or inadequately responded to bullying and harassment of a student, citing DASA and/or other laws.

Residency investigation found inadequate

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Kimberly A. Fanniff
Senior Staff Counsel

After a community member informed a superintendent that a parent was driving her children to school from New Jersey, the school district began an investigation. Over four days, an investigator monitored either a home in New Jersey or an in-district residence that was listed on a lease agreement and bank statement that the family had submitted as proof of residency.

Neither the mother nor the students were observed at the in-district residence. But on two mornings, the investigator observed the mother and students exit the New Jersey residence and drive to school.

When parents complain about coaches

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By the New York State Association of School Attorneys

In a recent newspaper survey of more than 200 high school coaches in Central New York, more than half said that they have considered quitting coaching because of unpleasant interactions with parents. How should school board members handle parents' complaints about coaches, and vice versa?

In New York, the commissioner of education has opined that policies and procedures with respect to athletic tryouts, determination of athletic rosters and playing time, the structure of modified and junior varsity teams, and related matters are all within the purview of the board of education to determine (see Commissioner's Decision No. 14,262, 1999; full text is available at

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