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Commissioner admonishes school board for silence on parent's DASA appeal

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Kimberly A. Fanniff
Senior Staff Counsel

In May 2017, a male high school student sent text messages during class to another male student describing, among other things, his desire to have sex with two female students on a deserted island - provided their vocal cords were surgically removed. The recipient shared the contents of the text exchange with one of the female students.

When district officials learned of the incident, an investigation determined that the texter had not violated the state's anti-bullying law, the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).

In Appeal of J.S., the father of the female student challenged that determination.


Using nature as classroom, Cuba-Rushford gives students wide array of study projects

On Board Online • October 15, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

At a time of year when back-to-school means back-to-a-classroom in most school districts, middle and high school science students in the Cuba-Rushford Central School District are heading back to the great outdoors.

They are busy weighing and measuring live fish from local ponds, and they are mounting remote cameras in a wildlife management area they call "Deerasic Park." (They will monitor the "rut" season, when frisky white-tailed deer start angling for mates.)

Students also are collecting milkweed pods and will analyze which varieties of the plant will do the most to bolster America's declining monarch butterfly population. The district is home to a nationally certified monarch habitat.


Districts seek 'active shooter' insurance

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

By Pauline Liu
Special Correspondent

New York's two leading insurers of public school districts - Utica National Insurance Group and the New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal (NYSIR) - have been fielding a lot of questions from clients worried about school shootings.

“They’re calling up and asking, ‘Oh my God, do we need active shooter insurance?’” said James Stoddard, Jr., senior vice president at Haylor, Freyer & Coon, an agency which sells Utica National Insurance.


A year after Hurricane Maria, ENL needs, trauma persist

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

By Mareesa Nicosia
Special Correspondent

Thousands of Puerto Rican families sought refuge in New York State after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory on Sept. 20, 2017. A year later, public schools are still marshaling resources to meet the needs of displaced students - both academic and emotional.

Teaching English as a New Language (ENL) on a larger scale has been only part of the challenge.


If Cuomo wins, what can public education expect?

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

Gov. Andrew Cuomo easily defeated Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic gubernatorial primary this month. Now, Cuomo faces the Republican nominee, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, along with several third-party candidates (including Nixon, who holds the Working Families ballot line) in the November general election.

While I can't guarantee who will be delivering New York's next State of the State Address, I am willing to bet that it will be Andrew Cuomo. What does that mean for public education?

With just six weeks to go before the general election, Cuomo has yet to articulate a vision for public education over the next four years.


Negative comments prompt Regents to drop idea of using Title I funds to sway parents

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The state Board of Regents voted at their September meeting to ax a regulation that many educators viewed as allowing a potential hijacking of federal Title I money to promote test participation.

Under the regulation dropped by the Regents, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia could have directed school districts to set aside a portion of their Title I funding to improve test participation rates if previous efforts had failed for five years or more.


Discrepancies found in attendance data

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

Eric D. Randall
Editor-in-Chief

When auditors from the state Comptroller's office compared student absence records in five school districts with data that districts supplied to the State Education Department, they found discrepancies in 45 percent of the records reviewed.


Civics gets new emphasis in schools

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

New York State is placing fresh emphasis on preparing students to lead well-informed, engaged civic lives.

"It's no longer sufficient to prepare students for college and a career. We must also prepare them to be actively engaged in their communities and the world in which they live," said Jeanne Beattie, a spokeswoman for the State Education Department.


20 steps to better school security

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

Susan Vickers
Superintendent, Hunter-Tannersville Central School District

Numerous articles, white papers and seminars on improving school safety are available. The latest was issued in July, when the U.S. Secret Service issued an operational guide called Enhancing School Safety Using A Threat Assessment Model. In February, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a paper entitled Making Schools Safer.I view a 2016 report, the Active Shooter white paper by ASIS School Safety and Security Council, as a foundational document for preventing active shooter incidents.


Commissioner admonishes district for reliance on decade-old RFP

On Board Online • September 24, 2018

By Kimberly A. Fanniff
Senior Staff Counsel

When making purchases of more than $20,000 or hiring contractors to do work for a fee exceeding $35,000, school districts in New York State must follow a competitive bidding process. Consistent with General Municipal Law, school districts must advertise for sealed bids and award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

But districts do not have to use a competitive bidding process to contract for professional services that require special skill, training and expertise, the use of professional judgment or discretion or a high degree of creativity in the performance of the contract.


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