New York State School Boards Association
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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

Fostering equity and educating the whole child

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

MaryEllen Elia
Commissioner of Education

With a new school year upon us, I'd like to take this opportunity to review some of the recent changes we've made at the state level and expect to see reflected in New York's classrooms this year. I'm particularly excited about the ways in which we will support your schools in two important areas: educating the whole child and fostering equity throughout the entire education system.

According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an education that focuses on the whole child is one in which each student:

Teachers' new best friend: Artificial intelligence systems

On Board Online • September 3, 2018

By Ken Goldfarb
Special Correspondent

If you watch Jeopardy, you may be familiar with IBM Watson's prowess in answering trivia questions. Or you may have seen television commercials portraying IBM's famous question-answering computer system as "the new guy," providing surprisingly effective advice to a wine grower, an elevator repair service and an airplane maintenance crew.

What you may not know is that Watson is now helping elementary and middle school teachers with lesson planning.

Should superintendents evaluate school boards? Corning-Painted Post likes 360-degree feedback

On Board Online • August 13, 2018

By George Basler
Special Correspondent

Every summer, school boards throughout New York State evaluate the performance of their superintendents. In the Corning-Painted Post Area School District, it's a two-way street. Michael Ginalski, superintendent for 12 years, gets a chance to comment on how the board is doing its job at the same time as the board rates his effectiveness.

"There's a trust present," said board member Mary Franklin. "We trust Mike to give us honest feedback."

The process of a subordinate evaluating his or her boss is often called 360-degree feedback.

Camps target skills, career exploration

On Board Online • August 13, 2018

By Eric D. Randall

"It's never too early for students to be exposed to possible career tracks," according to Donna Singer, an administrator at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. That's why her BOCES hosted a July program for students entering eighth, ninth and 10th grades. Over two weeks, students completed projects related to culinary arts, automotive technology, cosmetology, pet care and welding.

"Our Summer Exploration Program provides attendees with the opportunity to begin thinking seriously about the professions they may pursue and where they want to study," Singer said.

Board members must ask: 'To what end?'

On Board Online • August 13, 2018

Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

The late Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, offered this valuable advice: Begin with the end in mind.

In public school leadership, this means never losing sight of our long-range goal - to develop citizens who are ready to positively contribute to society. Our graduates need to be prepared to face whatever challenges the future holds, which is hard to predict in a world of nanotechnology, driverless cars, artificial intelligence and (sooner than you think!) space colonization.

Our schools are preparing students for challenges none of us has ever faced and can only imagine.

TRS contribution rate rises to 10.62 percent

On Board Online • August 13, 2018

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

A three-year downward trend involving teacher retirement contributions has ended.

For the 2018-19 school year, school districts and BOCES will be required to pay 10.62 percent of teachers' salaries to the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS). The rate is up from 9.80 percent for 2017-18.

Prevalent problem of 'food insecurity' addressed in backpack programs

On Board Online • August 13, 2018

By Gayle Simidian
Research Analyst

Skipping school three times per week during the school year is considered chronic absenteeism, and that's exactly what one third-grader at Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School District did last fall. But her attendance in her rural Otsego County school improved dramatically beginning in January, when the district included her in a new food backpack program, according to Raquel Norton, the district's library media specialist and backpack program coordinator.

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