NYCACS Code of Conduct & Discipline Policy
The NYCACS Board of Trustees is committed to providing a safe and orderly school environment where students may receive and school personnel may deliver quality educational services without disruption or interference. Responsible behavior by teachers, administrators, other school personnel, parents, and other visitors is essential to achieving this goal. The school’s code of conduct and discipline policy comply with Ed.L. 2851(2) and 34CFR 300.530-536. Student Disciplinary Code. The NYCACS student disciplinary code sets forth the school’s policy regarding how students are expected to behave when participating in school activities, on and off school grounds, and how the school will respond when students fail to behave in accordance with these rules. NYCACS recognizes that students with autism often engage in a variety of socially inappropriate and even dangerous behaviors as result of their disability. NYCACS adheres to the following procedural guidelines:
- A functional behavior assessment is conducted on any student behavior subject to the disciplinary procedure, and prior to the development of a behavior intervention plan;
- Students for whom the IEP includes specific disciplinary protocols are disciplined in accordance with those protocols. If the disciplinary protocols appear to be ineffective or if there is a concern for the health and safety of the student or others, the matter is immediately referred to the local school district’s CSE for consideration of a change in the student’s disciplinary protocols;
- The school district’s CSE is notified immediately of any suspension or removal from classes, and NYCACS works with the CSE to arrange appropriate alternative instruction.
- If there is any reason to believe that the infraction is a result of the student’s disability, the student is immediately referred to the school district’s CSE. If a connection is found as determined at the mandated manifestation determination meeting, no penalty may be imposed, and the school works with the CSE to consider a possible program modification.
- If a student identified as having a disability is suspended during the course of the school year for a total of eight days, such student is immediately referred to the district’s CSE for reconsideration of the student’s educational placement. Such a student will not be suspended for a total of more than 10 days during the school year without the specific involvement of the district’s CSE prior to the 11th day of suspension or removal, because such suspensions or removals may be considered to be a change in placement.
- In considering the placement of students referred because of disciplinary problems, the district’s CSE is expected to follow required due process policies and procedures with respect to parental notification and involvement.
- In order to keep the resident district’s CSE appropriately informed of any disciplinary actions taken, NYCACS notifies the resident district CSE whenever a procedural safeguards notice is issued.
- When a student with a disability has previously been suspended for the maximum allowable number of days, the school will work with the district to ensure that the district’s CSE meets within 10 school days, or if possible immediately upon notification, for the purpose of considering a change in placement for the student involved.
- NYCACS will immediately notify the resident district’s CSE whenever it suspends or removes a student for more than 10 school days in a year or commences a removal that constitutes a change in placement so that the district’s CSE may meet to conduct a manifestation determination, establish a behavioral intervention plan, or modify such a plan or its implementation. The school will work with the resident district’s CSE to ensure that each student’s behavioral intervention plan is fully implemented.
NYCACS is committed to exhausting empirically based treatment approaches before considering suspension or expulsion. The school also recognizes that failure to eliminate dangerous behaviors must result in action steps protecting the student’s right to a free and appropriate education, and ensuring a safe learning environment for other students. In all disciplinary matters, students will be given notice and will have the opportunity to present their version of the facts and circumstances leading to the imposition of disciplinary action to the staff members imposing sanctions. Whenever possible, students with autism will be involved with planning and selecting treatments for problem behavior. Depending on the severity of the infraction, disciplinary responses may include in-school suspension and expulsion. In the event that a student behavior presents an imminent safety threat to self or others and cannot be safely managed by NYCACS staff, law enforcement agencies may be contacted. For purposes of this code:
- “Short-Term Suspension” will occur within the school building and refer to the removal of a student from normal classroom placement for disciplinary reasons and further assessment for a period of five or fewer days;
- “Long-Term Suspension” will occur within the school building and refer to the removal of a student from normal classroom placement for disciplinary reasons and further assessment for a period of more than five days;
- “Expulsion” shall refer to the permanent removal of a student from school for disciplinary reasons.
A student who is determined to have committed any of the infractions listed below will be removed from the classroom for a short-term suspension. During this time school personnel will conduct an intensive functional behavioral assessment and plan review to identify which, if any, environmental variables are influencing the student’s behavior. The Executive Director may determine that an exception should be made based on the individual circumstances of the incident and the student’s history.
- any attempt to injure or harm another student;
- any behavior that presents an imminent threat to the health and safety of self or others;
- any behavior that causes significant property destruction or disruption of the learning environment;
- any attempt to use or possess a weapon; and/or
- any other act that school directors reasonably conclude warrants a disciplinary response.
Procedures for Short-Term Suspensions
The Executive Director may impose a short-term suspension. Before imposing a short-term suspension, the student will be informed of the reason for it and provided with an opportunity to respond to the charges. The Executive Director will immediately notify the parents/guardian in writing that the student has been suspended from school. Written notice will be provided by personal delivery, express mail delivery, or equivalent means reasonably calculated to assure receipt of such notice within 24 hours of suspension at the last known address. Where possible, notification will also be provided by telephone if the school has been provided with a contact number. Such notice will include a description of the incident that resulted in suspension, and will offer the opportunity for an immediate informal conference with whoever has imposed the suspension. The notification and informal conference will be in the dominant language used by the parents/guardian. The Executive Director’s decision to impose a short-term suspension or removal may be appealed first to the Board of Trustees of the charter school, then to the chartering entity, and finally to the Board of Regents in accordance with the Education Law.
A student having committed any of the above-listed infractions may be subject to a long-term suspension if the Executive Director in conjunction with NYCACS staff concludes that it is not safe for the student to return to the normal classroom environment. The Federal Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, which applies to public schools and thus to this charter school, states that a student who is determined to have brought a weapon to school must be suspended for at least one calendar year. School administrators, however, may modify this suspension requirement on a case-by-case basis. Weapons as used in this law means a firearm, and includes explosives.
Procedures for Long-Term Suspension
The Executive Director may impose a long-term suspension. Such a suspension may be imposed only after the student has been found guilty at a formal suspension hearing. In extreme circumstances, the Executive Director may expel the student from the school. Upon determining that a student’s action warrants a possible long-term suspension, the Executive Director will verbally inform the student that he/she is being suspended and is being considered for a long-term suspension (or expulsion), and state the reasons for such actions. The Executive Director will also immediately notify the student’s parents/guardian in writing. Written notice will be provided by personal delivery, express mail delivery, or equivalent means reasonably calculated to assure receipt of such notice within 24 hours of suspension at the last known address. Where possible, notification will also be provided by telephone if the school has been provided with a contact number. Such notice will include a description of the incident that resulted in suspension, and will indicate that a formal hearing will be held on this matter that may result in long-term suspension (or expulsion). The notification and informal conference will be in the dominant language used by the parents/guardian. At the formal hearing, the student will have the right to be represented by counsel, question witnesses, and present evidence. If the Executive Director has initiated the suspension proceeding, the Director will personally hear and determine the proceeding or may, using his/her discretion, designate a hearing officer to conduct the hearing. The hearing officer’s report will be advisory only and the Executive Director may accept or reject all or part of it. The Executive Director’s decision after the formal hearing to impose a long-term suspension or expulsion may be appealed first to the Board of Trustees of the Charter School, then to the chartering entity, and finally to the Board of Regents in accordance with the Education Law.
Provision of Services During Removal
The school will adhere to New York State Education Law and ensure that alternative educational services are provided to a child who has been suspended or removed in order to help that student progress with his/her IEP. During any removal of up to 10 days, services must be provided to the extent necessary to enable the student to appropriately progress with his/her IEP. The Executive Director, in consultation with the student’s special education teacher, shall make the service determination. During any long-term removal for behavior that is not a manifestation of the child’s disability, services must be provided to the extent necessary to enable the student to appropriately progress with his/her IEP. These service determinations are made by the district’s CSE. The Executive Director will have final authority to suspend or remove a student in accordance with appropriate regulations. The Executive Director will also maintain all necessary records regarding the number of days a student has been suspended or removed for disciplinary reasons.
Meetings of the district’s CSE to either develop a behavioral assessment plan or, if the child has one, to review such a plan are required when 1) the child is first removed from his/her current placement for more than 10 school days in a school year; and 2) when commencing a removal which constitutes a change in placement. Subsequently, if other removals occur which do not constitute a change in placement, the School will work with the district’s CSE to review the child’s assessment plan and its implementation to determine if modifications are necessary. If one or more members of the district’s CSE believe that modifications are needed, then the district’s CSE is expected to meet to modify the plan and/or its implementation.
If discipline which would constitute a change in placement is contemplated for any student, then (1) not later than the date on which the decision to take such action is made, the parents/guardian of the student will be notified of that decision and provided the procedural safeguards notice; and (2) immediately, if possible, but in no case later than 10 school days after the date on which such decision is made, the district’s CSE and other qualified personnel will meet and review the relationship between the child’s disability and the behavior subject to the disciplinary action. Parents may request a hearing to challenge the manifestation determination. Except as provided below, the child will remain in his/her educational placement for the duration of the hearing. If a parent requests a hearing or an appeal regarding a disciplinary action relating to weapons or drugs to challenge the interim educational settings or the manifestation determination, the child will remain in the interim alternative educational setting pending the decision of the hearing officer or until the expiration of the time period provided for in the disciplinary action, whichever occurs first, unless the parent and charter school agree otherwise. Disciplinary rules and procedures will comply with all federal and state laws, regulations and procedures as well as local policies and are included in the NYCACS’ Student Code of Conduct. These procedures consider the students’ autism as well as the educational approach of the school. The due process procedures are a part of the Student Code of Conduct. NYCACS enrolls only students with disabilities. Therefore, the student and parent appeals processes are those identified in Expedited Due Process Hearings in accordance with New York State regulations. NYCACS provides in-service training for all NYCACS staff members to ensure the effective implementation of the Student Code of Conduct, as well as the effective implementation of the Health Programs, the School Safety Plan, and other considerations that impact overall student well-being. The Executive Director routinely solicits the recommendations of the staff regarding additional in-service programs.