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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.
- The use of force against a staff member mandates a superintendent’s suspension.
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.
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