Code of Conduct
Section II: Introduction
The City School District of Albany has developed and implemented a set of expectations for conduct on school property and at school functions. These expectations are based on the principles of civility, mutual respect, citizenship, character, tolerance, honesty and integrity.
An individual’s character reflects the attitudes, attributes and moral convictions that shape his or her conduct. The development of good character is essential to responsible behavior and academic success in school today and future success in college, career and life.
This Code of Conduct addresses both the development of student character and conduct. The code, in conjunction with the district safety plan, contains standards and procedures that assure the security and safety of students and school personnel.
The Board of Education of the City School District of Albany recognizes the need to:
- Clearly define the expectations for acceptable conduct on school property;
- Ensure that schools provide equal access to a wide range of supports and interventions that promote positive behavior;
- Help students develop self-discipline and social and emotional worth;
- Enable students to improve and correct inappropriate, unacceptable and unsafe behaviors;
- Identify the possible consequences of unacceptable conduct; and
- Ensure that when discipline is necessary it is administered promptly and fairly.
Unless otherwise indicated, this Code of Conduct applies to all students, district personnel, parents/guardians and other visitors when on school property or attending a school event or activity, including sporting events.
All children and young people must be assured that they can learn in a non-disruptive atmosphere and will be treated in a fair, equitable, consistent and nondiscriminatory manner.
The Board of Education believes:
- All children and young people are capable of achieving their personal best, and when necessary improving their behavior with guidance, instruction, support and coaching. These practices fall along a continuum that responds to children of all abilities.
- Students need different kinds and amounts of time, attention, tasks, interventions and supports to behave responsibly, succeed academically and achieve at high levels.
- Consistent expectations and accountability for these expectations allow for students to anticipate and become familiar with routines and natural consequences for their actions.
- The use of out-of-school suspension as a response to challenging behavior does not improve school climate or outcomes for students. Students are more likely to do the right thing 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;
- All school staff consistently use shared language and practices; and,
- All staff members provide recognition and feedback for be-having appropriately, making their best effort, and completing high-quality work.
- The root of the word discipline is “teach.” Effective discipline helps students become more self-disciplined and teaches students to become more self-aware.
- An orderly school environment and a common understanding of discipline are essential to an effective public education.
- Everyone in the school community must play an active role in contributing to an orderly school environment.
- An orderly school environment requires a code of common understanding of discipline that clearly defines individual responsibilities, promotes positive behavior, categorizes and specifies unacceptable behavior, and provides for appropriate disciplinary measures and options.
In order to be effective, the code must:
- Be positive and preventative in nature;
- Promote self-discipline;
- Concern itself with the welfare of the individual as well as that of the school community as a whole;
- Promote a close working relationship between parents and district staff;
- Distinguish between minor and serious offenses as well as between first-time and repeat offenders;
- Provide disciplinary responses that are fair, equitable and appropriate to the misbehavior and age or cognitive level of the individual;
- Be administered by all in a way that is fair, equitable, reasonable and consistent;
- Encourage a high regard for every person’s right to be provided the opportunity for reasonable due process procedures when there is an allegation of misconduct; and
- Comply with provisions of federal, state and local law as well as with guidelines and directives of the New York State Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department, including the reporting of material incidents of harassment, bullying and/or discrimination as well as implementation of the Dignity for All Students (DASA) Act.
- Maximize every school’s capacity to promote positive behaviors.
- Develop interventions and consequences that enable students to increase their capacity to self-regulate and interact positively and responsibly with others in a manner that is developmentally appropriate.
- Ensure that classrooms and public spaces are safe, civil and orderly.
- Prevent inappropriate, unacceptable and unsafe behaviors.
- Increase capacity and accountability of district and school administrators to lead, support, and supervise highly functioning student support and school intervention teams.
- Support improved behavior for students with the highest number of incidents of unacceptable behavior.
- Reduce overuse and disproportionate use of in-school and out-of-school suspensions and school discipline referrals.
- Establish school-wide expectations that all adults are committed to support.
- Establish school-wide rules that all adults are committed to support and enforce.
- Increase capacity and accountability of administrators and student support specialists to intervene early and effectively with all students, particularly those with the highest needs.
- Increase capacity and accountability of teachers to respond to and correct unacceptable behaviors in an effective and respectful manner.
- Increase capacity and accountability of district and school administrators to lead effective discipline and student support policies and practices.
The following principles form the foundation for creating safe, healthy and supportive learning environments. These principles will guide school district staff, students and families, and community partners in the shared work of ensuring positive school environments and improved student outcomes.
The Code of Conduct is premised on these key principles:
- Adults – teachers, principals, administrators, school staff, parents and the larger community – have an obligation to help students learn to be good citizens and lead productive lives by:
- Enabling them to discern right from wrong;
- Fostering in them the desire to do what is good;
- Encouraging them to take responsibility for their words and actions; and
- Modeling positive behaviors adults want to cultivate in children and youth.
- Student discipline and support policies and practices must be implemented in ways that are perceived to be respectful and equitable. Interactions between and among district and school staff, students and parents are expected to protect the dignity of each individual.
- Improving educational outcomes for all students requires that schools provide support at three levels of care and instruction throughout the whole school: in classrooms; in small groups and with individual students and families.
- A multi-tiered system of support is aimed at addressing students’ academic learning gaps and the causes of unsafe behavior. Prevention and intervention strategies may include more personalized academic instruction and support, student support services, and programs to address personal and family circumstances; social/emotional learning, such as conflict resolution, peer mediation, anger management, communication skill building; behavior replacement strategies and other restorative interventions that may include discipline circles and family group conferencing.
- Student discipline and support policies and practices must be implemented in ways that are perceived to be fair, equitable, and differentiated. Differentiated responses must occur within a larger framework of fair and equitable practices under which all students are treated fairly without favor toward or prejudice against any one group of students according to ability, talent, age, gender/gender identity, developmental and acquired disabilities, race and ethnicity, socio-economic status, religious and spiritual orientation, national origin and home language, sexual orientation and indigenous heritage.
- Student discipline and support policies and practices must be implemented in ways that are enforceable, viable and effective. The district must ensure that all stated rules, policies, consequences, and interventions are actually enforceable, viable and effective.
- The Code of Conduct supports the use of a leveled system of interventions and consequences (see pages 23-29) addressing inappropriate, unacceptable, and unsafe behaviors with the ultimate goal of teaching positive behaviors and strengthening students’ personal, social and academic efficacy. A leveled student discipline and student support system emphasizes both student accountability and behavioral change. The goal is the prevention of a recurrence of unacceptable behavior by helping students to:
- Learn from their mistakes;
- Understand why the behavior is unacceptable;
- Acknowledge the harm that they have caused or the negative impact of their actions;
- Understand what they could have done differently in the situation;
- Take responsibility for their actions;
- Be given the opportunity to learn pro-social strategies and skills to use in the future; and
- Understand that more intensive consequences and interventions will take place if unacceptable behaviors persist.
- Every reasonable effort should be made to correct student misbehavior through guided interventions. Interventions are essential when inappropriate behavior or violations of the Code of Conduct may be symptomatic of more serious concerns that students are experiencing. It is, therefore, important that school personnel be sensitive to issues that may influence the behavior of students and respond in a manner that is most supportive of their needs.
- Effective schools promote and model mutual respect, high-quality professionalism and transparent accountability based on trust among and between administration, staff, students, and families.
- The district builds a culture based on high expectations, respect, and shared accountability. At the heart of a healthy school culture is the commitment of all staff to take responsibility for the healthy development of students and model the skills, behaviors and mindsets they seek to cultivate in children and young people. To this end, school staff, teachers and administrators are encouraged to set high expectations for student success, build positive relationships with students and teach and model for students how to behave successfully and safely in all school settings.