Student conduct code pulled from Pittsburgh school board agenda

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The administration tonight removed proposed revisions to the Code of Student Conduct from the agenda of the board of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Deputy Superintendent Donna Micheaux asked they be pulled from the legislative meeting agenda without comment. Board member Regina Holley said the reason was not that there was disagreement but that there was a desire for more discussion of the code as a companion piece to some of the other work the district is doing to reduce the exclusion of students.

Board member Mark Brentley Sr. said he was glad the item was removed, saying it would have "smelled very bad" to make code changes in the summer when parents and children were not in school.

The proposed revisions include replacing zero tolerance with more discretion, incorporating ideas from a student-proposed bill of rights and providing explicit protection of students for sexual orientation and gender identity expression.

The proposed revisions emphasize positive progressive discipline aimed at improving behavior and keeping students in schools.

For example, criminal charges are not mandated in assault cases although they still could be filed.

In the section on fighting, this addition is proposed: "Students experiencing disputes or conflict should contact the school counselor or social worker to learn about services available, including peer mediation and school counseling, to help resolve conflict and work through disputes."

Another proposed revision would state that "no student shall engage in harassment on the basis of known or perceived gender, age, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity expression, national origin, religion, disability, socioeconomic status or political belief."

The proposed revisions also state that students may dress, within the constraints of the code, "in accordance with their stated gender identity and/or expression."

On student rights, the proposed revisions include portions of a 10-point student bill of rights that members of TeenBloc of A+ Schools, an education advocacy organization, proposed last year. The proposed revisions state that "students have the right to a positive and inclusive learning environment that feels safe, respectful and welcoming for all students." That statement combines points made in the bill of rights.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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