Peekskill school officials will review the appropriateness of penalties for tardiness at Peekskill High School in the wake of concerns raised by residents and staffers.
Hallway sweeps to round up students who are supposed to be elsewhere are among the first steps the school district has taken to improve the climate at the school in the wake of a critical state report in December. But members of the Board of Education and the community have questioned whether imposition of out-of-school suspension was appropriate after two incidents of tardiness since the hallway crackdown began in January. The district’s Code of Conduct is more lenient, listing “Class Cutting/Multiple Lateness 2 cuts or 4 tardies” as a first-offense infraction warranting “Possible parent notification and detention – minimum 1 day, Mandated assignments.”
Many publicly voiced concerns have been similar to those expressed by Peekskill resident Rhonda Morris during the hearing of citizens at the board meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 14. “Suspension and missing school should not be the penalty for being late to class,” she said. “It is too drastic an escalation” of disciplinary action. She encouraged the board to focus on changing student behavior, not taking away education.
Board member Douglas Glickert said the sweeps and penalties had been implemented without review by the district’s Code of Conduct Committee and said they should be reconsidered in the wake of the concerns. Superintendent of Schools James Willis said he would discuss the concerns with Maxine O’Connor, director of pupil personnel services.
In other action Tuesday:
- The board approved several new courses at Peekskill High School including one on Entrepreneurship and Economics, a textbook for which was reviewed by the board. Board President Joseph Urbanowicz suggested that all students learn to manage data since all fields of endeavor require such ability. The board also approved these online courses: Architecture Across the Centuries and Today; Environmental Physics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Planet; Problems of the 21st Century: Needed-More than Just Good Ideas; Sustainability: Action for Change; European Cultural History: From Monet to Mendelssohn, An Artistic Journey through 19th Century Europe; Introduction to Anthropology; The History of Media and Presidential Elections; Historical Geology and Paleontology: Life and Time in the Prehistoric Age; 21st Century Literacy: My Digital Life.
- The board reminded parents and guardians that April 1 is the deadline for requests for transportation of students to private or parochial schools within established mileage limits.
- The board approved a tax certiorari settlement with Con Edison totaling $182,138 for 2008-11.
- The board approved appointments of substitute teachers, Learning Enrichment Advancement Program staffers, Civil Service workers, coaches and student teachers and accepted the resignation of a teacher aide. Please click here and here to read the complete listings.
- The board approved updated policies on Eligibility for Participation in Extra-Curricular Activities and Interscholastic Athletics and on Public Report on Revisions to District Policies, Practices and Procedures Upon a Finding of Significant Disproportionality. The board also received proposed updates to the policies on staff complaints and conditional appointments. Texts of policies can be found on the district’s Web site. “We’re moving right along on these updates,” board member Tuesday McDonald said.
- The Wellness Committee has received favorable comments on menu changes at Peekskill High School and the vending machines at Peekskill Middle School, board member Marcela Bobe said.
- The board plans to hold its next joint meeting with the Peekskill Common Council on March 8.
- The board accepted $2,000 from the Walmart Foundation and $25.60 from the Box Tops for Education Foundation for student enrichment at Woodside Elementary School.
- The board accepted $700 from the Target Field Trip Grant for a historical trip to New York City by eighth graders from Peekskill Middle School and $700 from Target for a trip to the Central Park Zoo by youngsters from Oakside Elementary School.
- The board accepted $3,400 from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for a gardening project as part of the middle school’s Seed to Meal school improvement project.
- The board approved creation of a co-curricular Power of Peace Club.
- The board approved participating in the Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services joint bidding program for instructional, office, custodial and other supplies.
- The board accepted a revised 2012-13 budget calendar. Please click here to view the calendar.
- In response to requests from the Peekskill High School Student Council the board opened a TV Club and closed dormant swimming, baseball, softball and volleyball clubs.
- The board approved the nominations of Katherine Brehner, Cathy Liburne and Cheryl Schwartz to the Board of Education of the Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
- In an effort to inform the community and encourage participation by residents, board members suggested including descriptions of presentations along with board agendas on the Web site; publicizing events by utilizing bulletin boards and kiosks around the city; building the district’s e-mail database (currently around 1,400 addresses) and sending e-mail blasts about specific events (such as the Feb. 17 basketball playoff games) as well as the monthly e-newsletter.
- The board congratulated the Peekskill High School varsity boys bowling team on winning its league championship.
- Board member McDonald commended the Black History month content on the Web site.
- Board member Glickert encouraged students and parents to join the Book Club at Peekskill Middle School.