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Heard in the Halls:

School District distributes draft Code of Conduct for students for public's input. Copies may be obtained by calling 422-2000.

Comments requested from public by April 30.

Public Hearing slated for May 21. Board to approve final draft June 25.

Covers appearance, unacceptable behavior, search/questioning procedures, penalties, student/teacher/administrator roles to comply with Project SAVE law.

Many procedures in place for years. New Code developed by District Administrators

By John F. Bailey


CityLine: April 7, 2001 -- Education House

The School District distributed a draft of a proposed "Code of Conduct" for all White Plains public school students to selected citizens and organizations last week, calling for the public's comments.

Persons receiving the 25-page draft are being asked to forward their feelings and suggestions in writing about what should and should not be included in the document back to:

Dr. Joseph Casbarro
Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services
5 Homeside Lane, White Plains NY 10605

The first comments on the draft are due back by April 30. Copies of the document may be requested by contacting Education House at 422-2000.

The district will assimilate the commentary received in early May to create a revised draft of the Code based on public input in time for a Public Hearing on the Code on Monday, May 21 at 8 PM at Education House.

The final Code of Conduct statement will be approved by the Board on June 25. It is due at the New York State Department of Education on July 1. Creation of the code is mandated by the Project SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education) law.

A broad, comprehensive document.

The draft Code of Conduct furnished to WPCNR is very specific in behaviors that will be considered to be a violation of the student conduct standards and spells out the penalties. It covers a startling spectrum of areas of concern.

Students who know and don't tell, violate Code of Conduct, subject to some kind of discipline if they fail to report.

It lists specific activities considered violations in areas of dress, fighting, academic cheating, controlled substance possession, weapons violations, threats, insubordination, to name just a handful of activities addressed.

Significantly, it holds students accountable to report violations they know about, even if they do not commit the violations themselves. The way WPCNR reads the Code, students who know, but do not report planned or committed violations, have "violated the district's Code of Conduct," and therefore are "subject to penalties/procedures. either alone or in combination."

A step-by-step disciplinary schedule is articulated ranging from Oral Warnings (the lightest category) to Permanent Suspension. A series of review and due process steps is articulated in dealing with each category of disciplinary action, with provisions for dealing with the student's rights. It should be noted that any student who brings a weapon to school will be suspended for a minimum of one year.

Conduct of student interrogations/ "searches".

The draft Code of Conduct does not allow any "Miranda" type warning before a student is questioned by school officials, and school officials are not required to contact a student's parent before questioning the student.

In the matter of searching students' belongings or lockers, students suspected of violating the Code of Conduct, will be given "the opportunity to admit that he/she possesses physical evidence that will show he/she violated the law or the district Code of Conduct, or ask the student to voluntarily consent to the search. Searches will be limited to the extent necessary to locate the evidence sought."

The Code "authorizes the Superintendent and building administrators to "conduct searches of students and their belongings, when necessary, if....reasonable suspicion to believe the search will result in evidence that the student violated the law or the district Code of Conduct." Lockers and desks, though are considered school property and are subject to search at anytime without obtaining student permission.

Police procedures outlined.

The Code outlines the circumstances under which the school administrators are required to call in the Police Department, as well as when the police are allowed to question or search a student on school property.

Visitors, outside organizations using school must enforce Code of Conduct, too.

The Code of Conduct sets up visitor procedures at District buildings, and outlines activities that will not be permitted. In fact, organizations using school facilities are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct.

The Code states: "Any organization that uses school property for an activity involving students must develop a set of procedures that are consistent with the Code of Conduct and must hold participating students to the same high behavioral expectations as the White Plains City School District."

The Code of Conduct developed internally now thrown open to community for development.

The covering letter accompanying the draft Code of Conduct from Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Saul Yanofsky, stated that the draft Code of Conduct was developed internally by School District personnel.

His statement reads: "To meet the State's timetable, I convened a small group of staff members to put together an initial 'working draft of the code. Many of the policies and procedures that have been in place in the district for many years were incorporated into and expanded upon in the Code and a few additional items that were required by the State were added."


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