Student bill of rights to be guideline for Pittsburgh Public Schools code of conduct

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The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools tonight unanimously agreed to use a student bill of rights proposed by teens as a guide for revisions of the district Code of Student Conduct.

The resolution stated: "The board directs the administration to review the student bill of rights and use the student bill of rights as a guide for proposing revisions to the Code of Student Conduct, which, by regulation, includes a listing of student rights and responsibilities."

Members of TeenBloc from A+ Schools, an education advocacy group, began their quest for their bill of rights in October when they announced the 10 rights, including the right to a socially, emotionally and physically safe and positive school climate; equitable academic resources; and effective teachers.

In the resolution, the board stated it "acknowledges the hard work of the students who coordinated the TeenBloc student bill of rights."

The resolution also notes the importance of student voice and states that the message of TeenBloc and the student bill of rights is "consistent with the board and district goals."

The teens followed their initial rally with a ratification by more than 1,700 students and a survey of more than 400 high school juniors and 26 school-based adults at nine secondary schools. The survey reported "large inequities."

Earlier this month, they presented their ideas at a board education committee meeting.

School board member Terry Kennedy called the students' efforts "phenomenal," saying, "I think this gets to the heart of it. We want our teens to succeed. In order for them to succeed, they need to have a great learning environment from their perspective."

School board member Mark Brentley Sr. said the teens' concerns serve as a "reality check."

Board member Cynthia Falls said she wasn't surprised the students did so well, saying she knew as a teacher that students meet high expectations.

The other rights are:

• Free expression

• Participate in decisions that affect our education.

• Inclusive teaching and learning environments in our classrooms.

• Be treated with respect and dignity by the school community.

• Positive school disciplinary policies and practices.

• Equitable access to accelerated classes and academic counseling.

• Efficient transportation.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955.

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