State-mandated measures aimed at trying to ensure that schools are safe havens for learning were approved unanimously Monday night by the Cheektowaga Central School Board.
The board adopted a code of conduct, safety plan and school emergency response plans in response to the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act, also known as SAVE, approved by the State Legislature and Gov. George E. Pataki last year.
SAVE was sparked by the Columbine massacre and other school shootings across the nation but goes further than merely providing a blueprint to deal with violence.
The code of conduct, for example, includes student dress and language codes, while spelling out prohibited conduct and student rights and responsibilities. It also deals with corporal punishment, disciplinary procedures and public conduct on school property.
Many of the policies and procedures were already in place, but the SAVE legislation reinforces them in a comprehensive form, officials said. Still, Cheektowaga Central School Superintendent Leslie B. Lewis said he was somewhat "annoyed at the amount of effort put into something that we are doing anyway."
The district's code of conduct and safety and emergency response plans were drafted by committees made up of School Board members, administrators, teachers, parents, students and staff members.
Summaries of the code of conduct will be mailed to parents and given to students at the beginning of each school year, officials said.
The code puts the responsibility for "acceptable student dress and appearance" on the students and parents, declaring that "see-through garments" and those "showing midriff, backs and containing plunging necklines are not appropriate for school."
The dress code also requires "that underwear is covered with outer clothing." It prohibits wearing outdoor jackets in school, except when entering or leaving the building, and "hats and head attire in the classroom, except for a medical or religious purpose. . . ."
The code also bans garments or other items that are "vulgar, obscene, libelous or denigrate others on account of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability" or "promote and/or endorse the use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs and/or encourage other illegal or violent activities."
Language "must not be profane, obscene, offensive, vulgar or disrespectful in any way to others" and "must not denigrate others on account of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability."
The student conduct code prohibits disorderly, reckless or violent behavior, including bullying, hazing, sexual harassment and "engaging in any willful act which disrupts the normal operation of the school . . . including the carrying or use of backpacks or any other school bag with or without wheels. . . ."
Among 26 examples of "prohibited student conduct" are the sale, use or possession of tobacco products, alcohol, drugs, weapons, fireworks, explosives or obscene materials and criminal activities including assault, stealing, extortion, bomb threats, and gambling.
The code establishes disciplinary procedures, including a formal process for teachers to remove disruptive students.
It also prohibits the use of corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool.