Code of Conduct

The goal of the Niskayuna Central School District Code of Conduct is to ensure that the right of all students to receive an education in a safe, civil, engaging and caring environment is met. For our schools to be safe and supportive environments, everyone within the school community must demonstrate and offer respect.

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Introduction | Visitors | Public Conduct on School Property | Attendance | Dress Code | Academic Integrity | Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Reimbursement for Damaged or Stolen Property | Prohibition of Violence, Harassment, Hazing, Discrimination, Bullying and Retaliation | Student Safety: Reporting Violence, Discrimination, Harassment, Hazing, Bullying and Cyberbullying | Other Disciplinary Measures | Dissemination and Review

Introduction

Why do we have a Code of Conduct?

The code of conduct serves as a guide to good citizenship, promoting positive behavior and helping students understand expectations which are based on the principles of mutual respect, citizenship, character, acceptance, honesty and integrity. Students are expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate and civil manner, with proper regard for the rights and welfare of other students, school personnel and other members of the school community as well as for the care of school facilities and equipment.

The board of education recognizes the need to clearly define expectations for acceptable conduct and identify the possible responses to unacceptable conduct. Levels of behavior concerns, violations and responses, interventions and consequences are outlined in the code of conduct.

The code of conduct applies to all students while in Niskayuna Central School District school buildings, on school grounds, in school vehicles and at all school, school-related and district-sponsored activities, including those held at locations off school property. It also applies at non-school events when behavior can negatively affect the educational process or endangers the health, safety, morals or welfare of the school community.

The Niskayuna Central School District Code of Conduct ensures that students have equitable access to behavioral support and intervention and that race, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender expression are not predictors of student achievement.

Code of Conduct Review Team

  • Amy Isenhart
  • Heather Callagan
  • Eva Jones
  • Deb Berndt
  • John Rickert
  • Anthony Malizia
  • Joe Dicaprio
  • Andrea Defillipi
  • Casey Horner
  • William Anders
  • Maggie Williams
  • Shana DeRocco
  • John Moskov
  • Carol White
  • Jenna Marcal
  • Latisha Barnett
  • Camille Harrelson
  • Shireen Fascilione
  • Shelley Bald-Nye
  • Mike Kovall

Beliefs about Children, Learning, Our Work

All of our students will be treated in a fair, consistent and non-discriminatory manner. We must ensure that all students have what they need for academic success. Supporting positive student behavior requires a high level of commitment from students, parents, guardians, staff, administrators, and members of the Board of Education. These stakeholder groups have rights and responsibilities that are designed to reflect both the mutual respect and accountability required of all people involved in supporting student behavior. The rights and responsibilities for each group are outlined in the Rights and Responsibilities Section.

Equity is the main pillar of our work.

  1. Reduce the predictability of success or failure
  2. Interrupt the reproductive practices that negatively impact diverse students
  3. Cultivate the unique gifts of each student

All children are capable of achieving their personal best and can improve behavior with guidance, instruction, support and coaching.

Children should not be asked, “what is wrong with you?” They should instead be asked, “what has happened to you?”

Students need varying kinds and amounts of time, attention, and support to succeed academically and achieve at high levels. Students are more likely to make positive decisions when:

  • They understand the positive behaviors that are expected of them
  • They feel that staff members care about them and will help them learn and grow
  • They feel respected
  • All staff consistently uses the same language and practices
  • All staff provides positive feedback for appropriate behavior and best effort

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Visitors

Parents and other District residents are encouraged to visit the schools under the following conditions:

  • All visitors must report to the Main Office upon arrival, present photo identification and obtain a visitor’s badge, which must be worn throughout the visit and returned upon departure.
  • Visitors attending school functions that are open to the public, and held outside regular school hours such as PTO meetings, concerts, or public gatherings, are not required to register.
  • Parents or residents who wish to observe a classroom while school is in session are required to arrange such visits in advance with the classroom teacher(s) so that class disruption is kept to a minimum.
  • Teachers are expected to not take class time to discuss individual matters with visitors.
  • Any unauthorized person on school property will be reported to the principal or designee. Unauthorized persons will be asked to leave. The police may be called if the situation warrants.
  • All visitors are expected to abide by the rules for Public Conduct on School Property contained in this Code of Conduct

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Public Conduct on School Property

All persons on school property or attending a school function shall conduct themselves in a respectful and orderly manner.

Prohibited Conduct

No person singly or in concert with others, shall:

  • enter any unauthorized areas of the school building or campus without proper authorization;
  • willfully cause or threaten physical injury to any other person who is behaving lawfully;
  • physically restrain, detain or remove such a person;
  • willfully damage or destroy school property nor use or remove such property without permission;
  • enter any private school office without first obtaining permission;
  • without authorization, remain in any school building after it is normally closed;
  • refuse to leave any school building upon the request of a staff member;
  • obstruct the free movement of persons or vehicles on school property;
  • refuse to follow traffic and parking procedures
  • disrupt classes or deliberately interfere with any person’s freedom of speech;
  • possess any firearm or weapon on school property unless so authorized by the Superintendent; and/or
  • willfully incite others to commit any prohibited act.

Penalties and Procedures

Anyone who violates these rules shall be subject to the guidelines set forth in Appendix A as well as the following penalties:

  • Non-students/staff shall be subject to ejection;
  • Students shall be subject to ejection pursuant to this Code of Conduct;
  • Faculty members shall by subject to ejection, warning, reprimand, suspension and other disciplinary actions given in the Education Law;
  • Classified service staff members shall be subject to ejection and the disciplinary actions set forth in §75 of the Civil Service Law;
  • Other staff members shall be subject to ejection, censure, suspension without pay and dismissal;
  • A person who refuses to leave school property when requested to do so may be subject to arrest.

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Attendance

Students are expected to attend class daily as required by state law. Such attendance creates an environment that fosters subject competency, continuity of learning, and responsibility, which are all integral to the educational process. Active student participation is an integral part of the school curriculum. Students are required to attend classes every school day unless excused for a valid reason. Acceptable reasons for absences and/or tardiness are (As per District attendance policy):

  1. Personal illness or injury
  2. Death or emergency illness in the immediate family
  3. Religious observance
  4. Required court appearance
  5. Medical and dental appointments
  6. School sponsored events
  7. College interviews and career development or explorations programs approved by the principal
  8. Late arriving bus
  9. Impassable roads or weather making travel unsafe
  10. Music lessons
  11. Driver’s road test
  12. Any other reason as authorized in the discretion of the building principal

Although days missed for the above reasons are considered excused absences, students must realize that their school work can suffer if they are out of class too often. Students and parents are responsible for keeping informed of makeup work for time missed in class, whether the absence is excused or unexcused.

Illness During the School Day

For health and safety reasons a student who becomes ill or who is injured during the school day, must report to the school nurse. If, in the opinion of the nurse, the student is too ill to continue to school, the nurse will contact the parent or other designated adult to make appropriate arrangements for the student to get home.

In the event that the nurse is not able to make contact with the parent or designated adult, the student shall be offered the opportunity to remain in the nurse’s office. If the student would prefer to return to class, it will be the nurse who makes a nursing assessment that determines whether the student is able to return to classes. The Main Office will be notified so that the student will not be charged with unauthorized absences.

Return from Absences/Additional Attendance Procedures

  1. Students must attend all classes.
  2. Students should notify a teacher if they will be out of the class for any reason (early dismissal, nurse’s office, counseling office, main office, music lessons).
  3. Students will remain in school all day unless granted early release at parental or legal guardian request.
  4. Students who are tardy to school will report to the attendance office to check in, and must present an excuse signed by the parent or legal guardian.
  5. Students who are tardy to class will report to the class and explain to the teacher why they are tardy. Tardiness to class is excused for:
    a. Personal illness or injury as verified by school nurse
    b. Late buses
    c. Counseling appointments
    d. Nurse’s office
    e. Main office visit
    f. Others as deemed necessary by the principal
  6. When reporting to class students will have a pass verifying the reason for their tardiness. If warranted, the teacher will assume responsibility for discipline.

Early Dismissal

The student is required to bring a written statement clearly defining the reason for any early dismissal. This note will be given to the homeroom teacher, preferably the day before the appointment. The parent or legal guardian is required to come to the main office and meet the student there when dismissed early. The parent or legal guardian is responsible for signing the child out at that time. No student is to leave the building without permission from an authorized school person.

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Dress Code

The building principal, or his or her designee, shall be responsible for informing all students and their parents of the student dress code at the beginning of the school year. The dress code will be developed in collaboration with teachers, administrators, other school service professionals, students and parents to ensure that it reflects current community standards on proper decorum and deportment. Parents will be notified of any habitual dress code concerns related to their student.

All students are expected to give proper attention to personal appearance and to dress appropriately for the school day, as well as school-sponsored activities. Students and their parents have the primary responsibility for acceptable student dress and appearance. Teachers and other District personnel should exemplify and reinforce acceptable student dress and help students develop an understanding of appropriate appearance in the school setting. A student’s dress and appearance shall:

  1. Be safe, appropriate and not disrupt or interfere with the educational process.
  2. Recognize that extremely brief or revealing garments are not appropriate.
  3. Ensure that undergarments are completely covered with outer clothing.
  4. Include footwear at all times. Footwear that is a safety hazard will not be permitted.
  5. Not include items that are vulgar, obscene, libelous
    or denigrate others on account of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, gender (including gender identity or expression), sexual orientation or disability.
  6. Not promote and/or endorse the use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs and/or encourage other illegal, violent or gang activities.
  7. Not conceal a student’s identity.

If a student’s dress or appearance in school is deemed questionable, a teacher and/or administrator will hold a personal private discussion with the student to advise the student of the potential violation. Students who violate the dress code shall be required to modify their appearance by covering or removing the offending item and, if necessary or practical, replacing it with an acceptable item. Any individual who refuses to do so may be subject to discipline or removal from school grounds. Visitors are expected to abide by the school dress code; those who do not may be asked to leave the premises.

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Academic Integrity

As part of a school community, students and faculty have the duty and responsibility to promote academic integrity. This means that students are responsible for completing their own work. The purpose of assignments is to develop the skills and measure the progress of each student. Students learn more and attain a feeling of accomplishment through their own hard work and initiatives.

One aspect of academic integrity that is very important throughout a person’s lifetime is acknowledging sources. Learning how to acknowledge sources begins in elementary school, but is taught and refined over time through the middle school years to prepare students for high school and college. Among other things, this includes using quotation marks and footnotes and citing sources where appropriate.

Students should follow these rules of academic integrity:

  1. Do your own work.
  2. Don’t let others use or copy: classwork, homework, quizzes and tests. Others should not get credit for work that you have done.
  3. If you are helping someone, do not do the work for him or her.
  4. If you are working in a group, follow the teacher’s directions on sharing work.
  5. Be truthful.
  6. If you are uncertain about the directions, ask the teacher for clarification.

Students who fail to follow these rules will face disciplinary consequences.

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Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia, synthetic narcotics, non-prescribed medications, or alcohol or the consumption of drugs or alcohol during school hours or at any interscholastic or co-curricular event or other school-sponsored activity is strictly prohibited. No student may come to school or a co-curricular event or other school sponsored activity, on or off campus, after the student has consumed alcohol or drugs or synthetic narcotics, non-prescribed medications, when in possession of drugs, synthetic narcotics, non-prescribed medications, drug paraphernalia or alcohol. The penalties for such conduct may include not only suspension, but following suspension, exclusion from any and all co-curricular interscholastic or other school-sponsored activity.

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Reimbursement for Damaged or Stolen Property

Students who damage or destroy school property shall reimburse the District for the cost of repairing or replacing the affected school property. Students who have stolen property shall reimburse the person from whom the item(s) were stolen.

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Prohibition of Violence, Harassment, Hazing, Discrimination, Bullying and Retaliation

A primary goal of the School District is to provide an environment in which the worth and dignity of all persons  is valued, accepted and respected. To this end, the Board  of Education has adopted a policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, hazing and discrimination in the School District. Bullying (including cyberbullying), harassment, discrimination and school violence on school grounds or at school function is prohibited and will not be tolerated.

In addition, retaliation is prohibited. Retaliation is a separate and distinct violation of the Code of Conduct and occurs when any member of the school community retaliates against any person who reports alleged bullying, harassment or discrimination or against any person who testifies, assists or participates in an investigation, proceeding or hearing relating to such conduct. It is possible that an alleged harasser may be found to have violated this anti- retaliation provision even if the underlying complaint of harassment is not found to be a violation of  this Code of Conduct. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment and may be redressed through application of the same reporting, investigation, and enforcement procedures as for harassment.

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Student Safety: Reporting Violence, Discrimination, Harassment, Hazing, Bullying and Cyberbullying

The school principal is the school employee charged with receiving all reports of harassment, bullying and discrimination; however, students and parents may make an oral or written complaint of harassment, bullying or discrimination to any teacher, administrator or school employee. The District will act to promptly investigate all complaints, verbal or written, formal or informal, of allegations of discrimination, harassment and bullying; and will promptly take appropriate action to protect individuals from further discrimination, harassment and bullying.

It is essential that any student who believes he/she has been subjected to discrimination, harassment, bullying or retaliatory behavior, as well as any individual who is aware of and/or who has knowledge of, or witnesses any possible occurrence, immediately report same to any staff member or administrator. The staff member/administrator to whom the report is made
(or the staff member/administrator who witnesses or suspects bullying/cyberbullying behavior) shall document and take appropriate action to address the immediacy of the situation and shall promptly report in accordance with the following paragraphs:

Upon receipt of a complaint (even an anonymous complaint), or if a District employee otherwise learns of any occurrence of possible conduct prohibited by this policy, the school employee shall promptly and orally notify the school principal no later than one school day after such school employee witnesses or receives the complaint or learns of such conduct. Such school employee shall also file a written report with the school principal no later than two school days after making such an oral report.

After receipt of a complaint, the school principal shall lead or supervise a thorough investigation of the alleged harassing, bullying and/or retaliatory conduct. The principal or the principal’s designee shall ensure that such investigation is completed promptly and in accordance with the terms of District policy. All complaints shall be treated as confidential and private to the extent possible within legal constraints.

Based upon the results of this investigation, if the District determines that a District official, employee, volunteer, vendor, visitor and/or student has violated the Code of Conduct or determines that a material incident of harassment, bullying and/ discrimination has occurred, immediate corrective action will be taken as warranted. The District will take prompt action reasonably calculated to end the violation, eliminate any hostile environment, create a more positive school culture and climate, prevent recurrence of the behavior, and ensure the safety of the student or students against whom such violation was directed.

As a general rule, responses to acts of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination against students by students shall incorporate a progressive model of student discipline that includes measured, balanced and age appropriate remedies and procedures that make appropriate use of prevention, education, intervention and discipline, and considers among other things, the nature and severity of the offending student’s behavior(s), the developmental age of the student, the previous disciplinary record of the student and other extenuating circumstances, and the impact the student’s behaviors had on the individual(s) who was physically injured and/or emotionally harmed. Responses shall be reasonably calculated to end the harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, prevent recurrence, and eliminate the hostile environment.

In the event that the principal is the alleged offender, the report will be directed to the Superintendent of Schools. All complaints of alleged harassing, bullying and/or retaliatory conduct shall be:

  • Promptly investigated in accordance with the terms of District policy;
  • Forwarded to the school building’s Dignity Act Coordinator for monitoring; and
  • Treated as confidential and private to the extent possible within legal constraints.

Parents shall be notified of their right to attend any meeting with their child to review a complaint. The school District provides a variety of prevention and intervention programs addressing the safety of students and school personnel, which are described in the District’s policies and on the District website.

Violations will be subject to discipline under Section IV, G of this Code of Conduct. See Supportive Interventions and Progressive Consequences.

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Other Disciplinary Measures

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities must be disciplined under the legal requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A suspension of more than ten days or a series of short-term suspensions, meeting certain criteria, would require the Committee on Special Education to meet and to make a determination whether the student’s conduct is a manifestation of the student’s disability. Further, the committee may also need to meet to determine whether the current placement of the student is appropriate. A parent may review questions concerning this legal requirement by contacting the chairperson of the committee. When a student with a disability poses an immediate threat to the student’s safety or the safety of others, the District may seek a court order to enjoin the student from attending school.

Referral to Police or Other Agencies

A student may be referred to the police or another appropriate agency for alleged breaches of the law. Such breaches may include, but are not limited to:

  • use or possession of illegal drugs, synthetic narcotics, non-prescribed medications or related paraphernalia;
  • use or possession of alcohol;
  •  use or possession of weapons (in violation of Policy 7360 and the Federal Gun-Free Schools Act);
  • vandalism;
  • theft of property or possession of stolen property;
  • creating a disturbance or safety hazard (e.g.; initiating or aiding in false alarms, bomb threats or other threats of harm to school property, students or staff; or possession of discharge or fireworks or a noxious substance);
  • trespassing (e.g.; entering school property while under suspension or before or after reasonable school hours);
  • unauthorized access to academic or administrative records;
  • any criminal conduct;
  • sexting; and/or
  • sexual exploitation such as voyeurism/”upskirting”

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Dissemination and Review

The Board of Education will work to ensure that the community is aware of this Code of Conduct by:

  • providing copies of a plain-language summary of the code to all students at a general assembly held at the beginning of each school year;
  • mailing the Code of Conduct summary, to all parents of District students before the beginning of the school year and making this summary available later upon request;
  • communicating to all students and parents at the beginning of the school year that the full Code is available online and in school offices;
  • providing all current teachers and other staff members with a copy of the Code (print or electronic) and a copy of any amendments to the Code as soon as practicable after adoption;
  • providing all new employees with a copy of the current Code of Conduct (print or electronic) when they are first hired;
  • making copies of the Code available for review by students, parents and other community members; and
  • posting the complete Code of Conduct on the District’s internet website, including any annual updates or amendments thereto.

The Board will periodically sponsor an in-service education program for all District staff members to ensure the effective implementation of the Code of Conduct, to promote a safe and supportive school climate while discouraging, among other things, harassment, bullying and discrimination against students by students and/or school employees and to include safe and supportive school climate concepts in the curriculum and classroom management. In service education programs shall also include training on the social patterns of harassment, bullying and discrimination, including but not limited to those acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, sex, or any other protected status, the identification and mitigation of harassment, bullying and discrimination, and strategies for effectively addressing problems of exclusion, bias and aggression in educational settings. The Superintendent may solicit the recommendations of the District staff, particularly teachers and administrators, regarding in-service programs pertaining to the management and discipline of students.

The Board of Education will review this Code of Conduct every year and update it as necessary. In conducting the review, the board will consider how effective the code’s provisions have been and whether the Code has been applied fairly and consistently.

The board may appoint an advisory committee to assist in reviewing the code and the District’s response to Code of Conduct violations. The committee will be made up of representatives of student, teacher, administrator, and parent organizations, school safety personnel and other school personnel.

Before adopting any revisions to the code, the board will hold at least one public hearing at which school personnel, parents, students and any other interested party may participate.

The Code of Conduct and any amendments to it will be filed with the Commissioner no later than 30 days after adoption.

This Code of Conduct remains in effect until it is revised by the Niskayuna Central School District Board of Education.

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