Spurred by concerns about disruptive use of electronic devices, the Peekskill Board of Education has adopted a revised Code of Conduct that limits student use of such items as cell phones within Peekskill High School to the cafeteria.
The revised code, adopted Tuesday night, June 19, also brings the school district into compliance with the new state Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which takes effect July 1.
The code revisions followed a survey in which high school teachers and students cited concerns about behavior such as texting and photography that disrupted classroom education.
“I’m disappointed that students could not use the technology appropriately and that we have to restrict its use,” board member Douglas Glickert said. He added his hope that the revised policy would address concerns and that it would not be necessary to consider a total ban. Such devices are already banned at lower grade levels.
Code revisions also include limits on low-hanging pants and where food may be consumed.
Reiterating previous concerns of board members, President Joseph Urbanowicz stressed the need for consistent application of the provisions of the code. Resident Katie Schmidt Fedor also voiced concern about such inconsistency during a public hearing on the code. Please click here and here to read earlier stories about the code.
The DASA, which was signed into law in September 2010, is designed to help carry out state policy “to afford all students in public schools an environment free from discrimination and harassment,” according to the introduction to the revised Peekskill code.
Maxine O’Connor, director of pupil personnel services and district DASA coordinator, explained during a presentation to the board that the new act targets bullying, discrimination and harassment by employees and students based on such grounds as race, color, weight, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation.
Training for anyone in contact with students, including board members, is expected to be completed by the end of August, O’Connor said. Parents will be invited to meetings during the summer to learn about the new provisions, and explanatory literature will be included in the packets sent to them before classes resume in September.
In response to a question from Fedor, O’Connor said the Sanctuary Model, part of the district’s four-part School Violence Prevention Program, was “alive and well” and would help support the goals of the DASA.