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BOARD SET TO APPROVE BROAD STUDENT-CONDUCT CODE

The Board of Education on Monday is expected to approve a comprehensive code of conduct that spells out the limits of student behavior on school property and dictates everything from appropriate dress to the consequences of bringing a weapon to school.

The proposed policy is intended to meet new requirements under the state Education Department's Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law signed by Gov. George E. Pataki last year.

The code was developed by a committee of teachers and administrators, as well as parents, community members and a student, who met over several months to devise the code.

Renee Knight, a School Board member who served on the committee, said handbooks distributed in middle and high school already spelled out what was expected of students.

"The difference is this new policy meets the specifications that were set by the state, and it requires that (the new rules) are very explicit," she added.

Though many of the requirements in the proposed policy are similar to the code already in place, the new code is more specific in defining disruptive and violent students, for instance.

The proposed policy also allows teachers to remove disruptive students from class for up to two days, though students assigned to in-school suspension will have to continue to have access to an equivalent education.

The proposed code also contains a dress code that prohibits students from wearing clothing or jewelry that displays messages deemed vulgar or racist or that promote sex or the use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Low-riding pants that have been popular with some youths for nearly a decade are forbidden. Students who choose to wear baggy pants are advised to wear a belt.

The policy also prohibits students from showing signs of physical affection, such as kissing and hand-holding, and they may not carry backpacks or other carry-all containers between classes.

It also spells out specific penalties for bringing a weapon to school based on the student's age and prior disciplinary record. Under the policy, school officials may search student's belongings when it is minimally intrusive and there is a legitimate reason to do so, though the code does not apply to student lockers, desks or other school storage places.

A public hearing on the proposed code of conduct was held last month. If approved by the School Board on Monday, the policy will take effect in September.

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