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Syracuse School District Names 50-Member Task Force on Student Conduct

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Lekia Hill, lead organizer in Syracuse for the Alliance for Quality Education, asks UCLA expert Dan Losen a question at a Sept. 30 board session. Hill was named one of 50 members of the district’s new Code of Conduct Task Force. Photo: Gary Walts

By Paul Riede

The Syracuse school district will convene a 50-member task force to rewrite the district’s student code of conduct, Chief of Staff Kim Bradley announced at a board meeting tonight.

Meanwhile, the school board entered into a second $30,000 contract with Dan Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA, to help the district identify issues with its discipline policies and practices and suggest improvements.

Losen’s first contract culminated Sept. 30 when he addressed the board and 150 community members on the district’s unusually high and racially disproportionate suspension rates.

His message: Syracuse has serious problems with its discipline practices that it needs to address.

Bradley said one way of addressing the discipline issues is to reconvene a task force that was originally brought together in the summer of 2012. That task force suspended its work because it wanted an independent evaluation of the district’s practices, Bradley said. She said Losen has done that evaluation.

The new task force will be co-chaired by Patricia Clark, director of pupil personnel services for the district, and Derrick Dorsey of Interfaith Works. Members include parents, administrators, teachers, other district staff and community members.

Bradley said the task force will begin its work in December and have a new code of conduct by June. She said it will engage the public through focus groups, mini-task force meetings, written surveys or other outreach efforts.

“We believe that this really needs to be a win-win for the Syracuse community as a whole,” she said.

She said the district is in discussions with Advancement Project, the Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization that helped Buffalo revise its code of conduct, to seek its help with the process.

In the Media

> Syracuse school board poised to extend work with UCLA civil rights expert,, 9 October 2012

Advancement Project is an Atlantic grantee. Alliance for Quality Education is a grantee of the Atlantic-supported Just and Fair Schools Fund at Public Interest ProjectsThe Civil Rights Project of UCLA is an Atlantic grantee via a re-grant from the NAACP Legal Defense Educational Fund