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
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
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
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,
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
The Code of Conduct developed internally now thrown open to community
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