The Rochester City School District released a draft of its new Code of Conduct July 23, written by the Rochester Community Task Force on School Climate, after a report last year found that RCSD students have been suspended at excessively high rates for minor offenses.
Officials said the new code will include items such as a progressive discipline matrix, describing restorative practices and training for staff; limits on student arrests for school-based behaviors; and a new students’ bill of rights.
“The current Code of Conduct is punitive, criminalizing student behavior across the board,” said Chris Dandino, a member of the task force, and co-chair of the Greater Rochester After-School Alliance. “The new draft is prevention- and intervention-based. We want and welcome discipline that teaches, not punitive measures that contribute to problems like low graduation rates.”
In the 2012-2013 school year, one in 10 students missed over 54,000 school days, equaling 300 years of school, due to suspensions, the report stated. Additionally, black students were twice as likely to be suspended as their white peers, while Latino students were suspended 1.5 times as much, and black students with disabilities were suspended 2.6 times as much, respectively.
According to a summary of the draft, a “key point is that staff should respond to student misbehavior with an appropriate guidance intervention, and, if necessary, the lowest level disciplinary response.”
The lowest level of disciplinary response is classroom and student support team interventions. In addition, the new code instructs students should only be suspended for serious infractions, and then, should receive due process before being removed from school.
RCSD has posted the new, proposed Code of Conduct here, at http://www.rcsdk12.org/CodeofConduct, and will be accepting feedback from the community, via an online survey, until Aug. 31.