Dealing with discipline: Attorney General's Office partners with Syracuse City School District to develop new discipline procedures

The Syracuse City School District is partnering with the Attorney Generalâ??s Office to handle the discipline problem in city schools.

The Board of Education approved the agreement, in which the Attorney General will seek to address how discipline is handled in the district.

â??The Board of Education takes very seriously the findings of the NYS Attorney Generalâ??s Office regarding discipline in the District, and is putting into place numerous initiatives to significantly reduce harmful, exclusionary practices,â?? said Board of Education President Mignano. â??We believe the District is making progress, and we are dedicated to working together with the Attorney General and the entire Syracuse community to ensure our students receive the education to which they are entitled in a safe and supportive environment.â??

The Attorney Generalâ??s findings were in line with the findings of reports commissioned by the district in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. The AGâ??s office says the district has made progress in suspending fewer children for insubordination and non-violent behavior and is offering teachers additional tools and support to handle discipline in the classroom.

These tools include the implementation of a new Code of Conduct, which was developed with the input from teachers, administrators, parents and members of the community.

â??This new Code of Conduct sets clearer expectations for student behavior and better defines interventions and consequences for Code infractions,â?? said Superintendent Contreras. â??It is focused on creating an environment of restorative justice, where students are actively engaged in taking responsibility for their behavior and staff is equipped to facilitate that process,â?? she added.

â??It is critical that every child in our state has access to a quality education, and the use of zero-tolerance policies by school districts deprives them of that basic right,â?? Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. â??My office is committed to protecting New Yorkâ??s students by ensuring that districts adopt proven disciplinary policies conducive to a safe and effective learning environment. I applaud the Syracuse School District School Board and Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras for taking steps that will help eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline and expand the pathway to opportunity.â??

One of the primary focuses of the effort will be to drastically improve discipline processes and procedures within the district. An emphasis on due process for every student in a disciplinary situation and parental involvement in that process will be implemented.

â??We know we have a lot of work to do, but we are fully committed and resolved to that effort,â?? said Superintendent Contreras.

Read a copy
of the Attorney Generalâ??s agreement with Syracuse City School District.