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It’s the principal’s responsibility to maintain security, safety and discipline, and you have a right to insist that misbehaving students are disciplined.
The guidelines the school must follow are established by the Department of Education’s systemwide Discipline Code, which:
- Establishes a ladder of consequences with specific mandatory disciplinary responses to match the severity of various student infractions.
- Sets minimum and maximum penalties for each degree of severity.
- Varies penalties by grade level, either K-5 or 6-12, so that the age and general maturity of the student are considered. Some infractions may not apply to students in grades K-3.
- Specifies that whenever possible, interventions should begin with the lowest level of disciplinary response.
- Provides graduated penalties for students who engage in repeated misbehaviors despite the prior imposition of appropriate disciplinary measures.
What the principal must do:
- While in most cases the principal has some discretion about what action to take, he or she must impose minimal or mandated disciplinary actions.
- If a principal has not followed the steps required by the code — for example, if he or she has allowed a student who should have been suspended back in your classroom — you should speak to your chapter leader and UFT borough safety representative for advice about how best to resolve the matter.
Examples of Discipline Code
|ACTION||GRADE LEVEL||SEVERITY LEVEL||RANGE OF RESPONSES|
|Engaging in scholastic dishonesty (e.g., cheating, plagiarism)||K-5||2||7 responses, ranging from teacher admonishment to parent-teacher conference to principal’s suspension.|
|Insubordinate behavior||K-5||3||9 responses, the above plus inschool suspension, removal from classroom by teacher.|
|Disruptive behavior in the classroom or falsely activating a fire alarm||6-12||3||11 responses, ranging from admonishment by staff to superintendent’s suspension.|
|Assault/using force against school personnel||K-5 and 6-12||5||Mandatory superintendent’s suspension with possibility of removal to a special setting or school.|
Discipline code is updated annually, as required by state law.
Special Education Students
It is a common misperception that disciplinary consequences cannot be imposed on students with disabilities who commit disciplinary infractions. Students with disabilities are subject to the Discipline
Code, but they are entitled to additional procedural protections. The procedures for disciplining students with disabilities are fully explained in Chancellor’s Regulation A-443. Both the UFT Safety and Health
Department and the office of the vice president for special education are able to assist members with questions about safety and discipline issues involving students with disabilities, as well as IEP availability and providing a special education complaint form.
Cell Phone Policy
Pursuant to Chancellor’s Regulation A-413, principals must establish written school-based policies regarding the use of cell phones, computing devices and portable music and entertainment systems.
The Chancellor’s Regulation requires each school to develop its own policy on cell phones and electronic devices.
Schools must communicate their policies to students, parents and staff in writing, and must post them on their school websites. In addition, an orientation session on the school’s policy and Regulation A-413 must be conducted for staff and students within 30 days of adoption of the school-based policy.Contact your UFT borough safety representative if you need assistance.