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Shenendehowa clarifies code of conduct

The Shenendehowa district wants to give students, parents and staff clear guidelines regarding expected student conduct.

The board of education reviewed significant clarifications to the district's student code of conduct at the Tuesday, Aug. 14, meeting.

The board will hold a hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at which time the public can ask questions about the changes.

A key addition to the document is a section on cyber-bullying. Previously absent from the document, it is now outlined as an infraction on the same level as harassment, intimidation and repeated cutting of classes.

It's important to add because we know that kids are engaging in much more chatter on blogs and Web sites, and it's now penetrating into the school environment, said Shenendehowa Superintendent Dr. L. Oliver Robinson.

"Subsequently, we need to have the policy to provide the administration the authority to act on those issues."

The district's code of conduct outlines bullying as "face-to-face, or carried out by phone, over the Internet and other ways directed at another person through the 'posting' of sensitive and/or private information."

Although the school has no jurisdiction over what students send each other over the Internet while at home, Robinson said that cyber-bullying can put conduct violations that occur in school in the proper context.

"There becomes an evidentiary set so you can say, 'You know what, this isn't a one time thing.' So you can say, 'Here are the 10 e-mails,'" he said. "It gives us a chance to look at it and engage conversation with students and parents on both sides to see what action to take."

District records access officer Larraine Longhurst presented the changes to the board.

"Dr. Robinson appointed an ad hoc committee to review and revise the code of conduct and at the very first meeting the folks who were at the meeting, assistant principals, several, a couple of administrators, and others said that the code worked very well," she said. "As we moved along, we realized that we could use a lot more detail."

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