Code of Conduct, Character and SupportIn November 2013, the school district convened a 50-member task force, comprised of representatives from throughout the Syracuse community with a vested interest in the issue of school discipline in the Syracuse City Schools. Task force members included students, parents, teachers, principals, union leaders, community leaders, service providers and other SCSD staff. These individuals brought various perspectives and experiences to the table; however, they shared one common purpose: to create a Code of Conduct, Character and Support that clearly and concisely reinforces the roles and responsibilities of students, staff and parents; sets forth expectations for student behavior; ensures fair, appropriate and equitable student discipline practices; and complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
The Code of Conduct, Character and Support Task Force worked to create initial Code of Conduct, Character and Support, which is reviewed and updated each year. The Code has undergone five major shifts:
- A greater emphasis on accountable and restorative interventions that will support students to improve their behavior and experience greater success at school
- A greater emphasis on promotion of positive social behaviors and prevention of discipline problems
- Differentiated responses to discipline problems for students in grades Prekindergarten-5 and students in grades 6-12
- More precise descriptions of behavior concerns and violations aligned to levels of specific interventions and consequences
- More limited use of out-of-school suspension, in-school suspension, and removal of students from the classroom.
Why do we have a Code of Conduct, Character and Support?
The goal of the Syracuse Code of Conduct, Character and Support is to ensure all students’ right to an education in a safe, civil, and caring environment. It is based upon the laws, regulations, and policies that create access to education for all while protecting the due process rights of the individual. The Code recognizes that schools are public places that must balance individual rights with civic obligations and the responsibilities that make it possible to live in a free, open and democratic society. The Syracuse Code of Conduct, Character and Support serves as a guide to good citizenship and provides the tools for helping students to understand and appreciate the norms of behavior within the school culture.
Specific Goals of the Code of Conduct, Character and Support
- Establish schoolwide rules that all adults are committed to support and enforce.
- Ensure that classrooms and public spaces are safe, civil, and orderly.
- Maximize every school’s capacity to promote positive behaviors; prevent inappropriate, unacceptable, and unskillful behaviors; and support improved behavior for students with the highest number of incidents of unacceptable behavior.
- Develop interventions and consequences that enable students to increase their capacity to self-regulate and interact positively and responsibly with others, and in a manner that is developmentally appropriate.
- Increase capacity and accountability of administrators and student support specialists to intervene early and effectively with all students, particularly those with the highest needs.
- Increase capacity and accountability of teachers to respond to and correct unacceptable behaviors in an effective and respectful manner.
- Increase capacity and accountability of district and school administrators to lead effective discipline and student support policies and practices.
- Increase capacity and accountability of district and school administrators to lead, support, and supervise highly functioning student support and school intervention teams.