By Aminisha Black
Summer Assignments for Parents
A summer bridge activity for parents might be to read a few of those wordy documents from the Department of Education that determines the fate of our children. While all schools are subject to the same guidelines – the interpretation and implementation of those guidelines vary depending on the administration’s vision and perception of its students. In order to hold schools responsible for following policy guidelines we need to know what they are.
Student Rights and Responsibilities – The DOE’s Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities – K-12 is found on the last five pages of the Discipline Code, following twenty-one pages of infractions and ranges of possible disciplinary responses for the infractions. Every parent should have received a copy of the Citywide Standards of Discipline and Intervention Measures (The Discipline Code). If you didn’t, call your child’s school today. The last five pages should be read first.
Student Rights include but are not limited to the right to attend school and receive a free public school education from kindergarten to age 21 or receipt of a high school diploma, whichever comes first; English Language Learners are entitled to a bilingual education or English as a Second Language Program; Students with Disabilities who have been determined to be in need of special education are entitled to a free appropriate public education from age 3 until age 21; receive courtesy and respect from others; receive a written copy of the school’s policies and procedures, the Discipline Code and the NYC DOE Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities early in the school year or upon admission to the school.
Suspensions – According to Chancellor’s Regulation A-443, suspension is the temporary removal of a child from the regular school program because his/her behavior negatively affects the health, safety, welfare and/or morals of others. It is to be used as a last resort after other forms of intervention have been tried. A-443 is required reading necessary to provide a context for the disciplinary responses. The suspension is not to be used to punish inappropriate behavior nor is it a way to rid the school of students who the staff consider annoyances. Last year, a high school student who had obviously plucked the last nerve at her school, was suspended. Having been out of the city for a while, I obtained the Discipline Code, the 69- page A-443, and Advocates for Children’s Guides to Principal and Superintendent’s Suspensions for parents of Elementary to High School Students. The guardian and I reviewed the charges and compared the actual conduct of the staff to the mandates of A-443. We insisted on a hearing. We had documented at least six violations to A-443, one of which was that school officials shall not interfere with a suspended student’s efforts to carry out due process rights. The dean had recommended to her that she enter a plea of no contest in the presence of her guardian and me. I strongly suggested that he withdraw the charges indicating that we had found several violations of A-443 and was adding the one he had just made.
While the challenge was successful, her guardian realized how biased the staff was. They registered her at Brooklyn’s Benjamin Banneker Academy where she is completing her junior year (being recognized there for intelligence and potential, not as a discipline problem) and is entering her second year as a dancer in an adolescent dance troupe that performs at community centers on a rigorous year round schedule.
Our job is to provide consistent guidelines for the home, review and enforce school policies and always remain vigilant to advocate for the children in a principled manner.
Next time we’ll look at No Child Left Behind and ways of protecting our children’s privacy.
ALERT!! If your child is enrolled in a school designated as a School Under Registration Review (SURR*) or a School In Need of Improvement (SINI*) and would be attending that school next fall, that child is eligible to transfer to another school. Parents should have received notice with application. Application must be returned by mail postmarked by JULY 8TH. If you haven’t received the material, call the parent coordinator at your school or 311 for your regional Learning Support Center immediately.
Contact the Parent Notebook by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 755, Brooklyn, NY11238.