The Rules at Success Academies

Below you will find, verbatim, the disciplinary code for Success Academies, taken from the Success Academies handbook, which is distributed to all parents and perhaps others.  I discussed aspects of the rule book in my interview with Success Academies founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz.  If you missed the NewsHour segment when it was broadcast on October 12th, you can find it here.

  1. Discipline
  1. Violations

Anytime a scholar violates school or classroom rules or policies, it is considered a behavior infraction. Behavior infractions include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-compliance with the school dress code
  • Non-compliance with the school attendance policy
  • Non-compliance with the code of conduct
  1. Violence and Aggression

We must ensure that our scholars are safe at all times in our schools. Success Academy has a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to aggressive or violent conduct that puts the safety of our scholars or staff in jeopardy.

In the classroom, we teach our scholars strategies to peacefully handle disagreements. We teach them that violence is never the solution. Scholars who engage in aggressive or violent conduct will be suspended. Scholars who hit because “he hit me first” will also be suspended.

  1. Suspensions and Expulsion

Scholars who repeatedly disregard directions, compromise the safety of others, or violate our policies may be suspended.

A short-term suspension refers to the removal of a scholar from the school for disciplinary reasons for a period of five days or fewer. A long-term suspension refers to the removal of a scholar for disciplinary reasons for a period of more than five days. Expulsion refers to the permanent removal of scholar from school for disciplinary reasons.

If your scholar is suspended, a member of the school leadership team will call to inform you. You will receive a suspension letter at pick up or within 24 hours. You should make arrangements with the school for mandatory alternative instruction for your scholar during his or her suspension.

  1. Disciplinary Policy and Code of Conduct

In order to establish and maintain school culture, the following Code of Conduct contains a list of possible infractions and potential consequences. Please keep in mind that the list of unacceptable conduct and consequences is not exhaustive. Teachers and staff can supplement this Code of Conduct with their own rules for classes and events. In addition, violations of the Code of Conduct and resulting consequences are subject to the discretion of the Principal and may be adjusted accordingly. A scholar’s prior conduct and his or her disciplinary history may be factors in determining the appropriate consequence for an infraction.

The Code of Conduct will be enforced at all times. Scholars must adhere to the Code of Conduct when at school on school grounds, participating in a school sponsored activity, and walking to or from, waiting for, or riding on public transportation to and from school or a school-sponsored activity. Serious misconduct outside of the school is considered a school disciplinary offense when the misconduct or the scholar’s continued presence at the school has or would have a significant detrimental effect on the school and/or has created or would create a risk of substantial disruption to the work of the school.

Code of Conduct:

Level 1 Infractions

Slouching/failing to be in “Ready to Succeed” position (SPORT or Magic 5 position)

  • Calling out an answer
  • Chewing gum or bringing candy to school
  • Minor disrespectful behavior

Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level l  Infractions

  • Warning/reprimand by school staff
  • Scholar is reminded of appropriate behavior and task at hand
  • Scholar is reminded of what he/she is like at his/her best and of past good behavior
  • Scholar is reminded of past poor decisions and provided with productive alternatives/choices that should be made
  • Scholar is given a non-verbal warning
  • Scholar is given a verbal warning

Level 2 Infractions

  • Committing a Level 1 Infraction after intervention
  • Verbally or physically dishonoring a fellow scholar (which includes, but is not limited to, teasing, name calling, being rude, mocking, etc.)
  • Verbally or physically dishonoring faculty, staff, or other Success Academy community members (which includes, but is not limited to, being rude, disobeying instructions, etc.)
  • Using school equipment (e.g. computers, faxes, phones) without permission
  • Bringing electronic equipment to school of any kind without school authorization (which includes, but is not limited to, cell phones, Game Boys, iPods, headphones, pagers, radios, etc.)
  • Unauthorized possession or use of a cell phone
  • Failing to follow directions
  • Failing to complete work
  • Being off-task
  • Arriving late to school/class and/or violating school attendance policy
  • Violating the Dress Code
  • Being unprepared for class (which includes, but is not limited to, failing to bring a pencil, not completing homework, etc.)
  • Wearing clothing or other items that are unsafe or disruptive to the educational process
  • Failure to obtain signatures for required assignments
  • Disrupting class or educational process in any way at any time (which includes, but is not limited to, making excessive noise in a classroom, failing to participate, refusing to work with partners, etc.)
  • Leaving the recess area during recess without permission from an authorized adult
  • Being in an off-limits location without permission
  • Failing to be in one’s assigned place on school premises
  • Getting out of one’s seat without permission at any point during the school day
  • Going to the bathroom without permission or at undesignated times
  • Making noise in the hallways, in the auditorium, or any general building space without permission
  • Inappropriate noise levels in lunchroom, gym, and during arrival and dismissal
  • Engaging in unsafe behavior, failing to use recess equipment properly, or failing to follow directions during recess
  • Excluding classmates in games/activities during recess
  • Littering on school grounds

Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level 2 Infractions

  • Scholar is reminded of appropriate behavior and task at hand
  • Scholar is given a verbal warning
  • Removal from classroom for ”Time Out” outside of the classroom (administrator’s office)
  • Student-Teacher-Parent conference
  • Student-Parent-Administrator Conference
  • In-school disciplinary action (which includes, but is not limited to, exclusion from recess, communal lunch, enrichment activities, sports, school events, trips, or activities)
  • Verbal or written apology to community
  • In-school suspension (possibly immediate) in a buddy classroom
  • Out-of-school suspension (possibly immediate)
  • Other consequences/responses deemed appropriate by school (including, but not limited to, extended suspension for a fixed period or expulsion)

Level 3 Infractions

  • Committing a Level 2 Infraction after intervention
  • Dishonoring a fellow scholar using profanity, racial slurs, or any foul or discriminatory language
  • Dishonoring a faculty, staff, or other Success Academy community member using profanity, racial slurs, or any foul/discriminatory language
  • Disobeying or defying school staff or any school authority/personnel
  • Using profane, obscene, lewd, abusive, or discriminatory language or gestures in any context (which includes, but is not limited to, slurs based upon race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability)
  • Posting or distributing inappropriate materials (which includes, but is not limited to, unauthorized materials, defamatory or libelous materials, or threatening materials)
  • Violating the school’s Technology and Social Media Acceptable Use Policy (which includes, but is not limited to, using the Internet for purposes not related to school/educational purposes or which result in security/privacy violations)
  • Forgery of any kind
  • Lying or providing false or misleading information to school personnel
  • Engaging in any academic dishonesty (which includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, copying another’s work, or colluding/fraudulent collaboration without expressed permission from a school authority)
  • Tampering with school records or school documents/materials by any method
  • Falsely activating a fire alarm or other disaster alarm
  • Making threats of any kind
  • Claiming to possess a weapon
  • Misusing other people’s property
  • Vandalizing school property or property belonging to staff, scholars, or others (which includes, but is not limited to, writing on desks, writing on school books, damaging property, etc.)
  • Stealing or knowingly possessing property belonging to another person without proper authorization
  • Smoking
  • Gambling
  • Throwing any objects
  • Engaging in inappropriate or unwanted physical contact
  • Fighting or engaging in physically aggressive behavior of any kind (which includes, but is not limited to, play fighting, horsing around, shoving, pushing, or any unwanted or aggressive physical contact)
  • Leaving class, school-related activity, or school premises without school authorization
  • Repeatedly failing to attend class, school, or any school activity or event and/or repeatedly violating school attendance policy

Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level 3 Infractions

  • Sent to principal/school administrator
  • Loss of classroom/school privileges
  • Additional assignments which require scholar to reflect on behavior in writing or orally (depending on grade)
  • Call home to parents/guardians
  • Removal from classroom or “Time Out” outside of the classroom (administrator’s office)
  • Student-Parent-Administrator Conference
  • In-School disciplinary action (which includes, but is not limited to, exclusion from recess, communal lunch, enrichment activities, sports, school events, trips, or activities)
  • Verbal or written apology to community
  • Staying after school or coming in on Saturdays
  • In-school suspension (possibly immediate) in a buddy classroom
  • Out-of-school suspension (possibly immediate)
  • Other consequences/responses deemed appropriate by school (including, but not limited to, extended suspension for a fixed period)
  • Expulsion

Level 4 Infractions

  • Committing a Level 3 Infraction after intervention
  • Repeated in-school and/or out-of-school suspensions
  • Exhibiting blatant and repeated disrespect for school code, policies, community, or culture
  • Engaging in gang-related behavior (which includes, but is not limited to, wearing gang apparel, making gestures, or signs)
  • Destroying or attempting to destroy school property
  • Engaging in intimidation, bullying, harassment, coercion, or extortion or threatening violence, injury, or harm to others (empty or real) or stalking or seeking to coerce
  • Engaging in behavior that creates a substantial risk of or results in injury/assault against any member of the school community
  • Engaging in sexual, racial, or any other type of harassment
  • Possessing, transferring, or using drugs, alcohol, or controlled substances
  • Participating in an incident of group violence
  • Possessing a weapon
  • Charged with or convicted of a felony

Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level 4 Infractions

  • Sent to principal/school administrator
  • Loss of classroom/school privileges
  • Additional assignments that require scholar to reflect on behavior in writing or orally (depending on grade)
  • Call home to parents/guardians
  • Removal from classroom or “Time Out” outside of the classroom (administrator’s office)
  • Student-Parent-Administrator Conference
  • In-school disciplinary action (which includes, but is not limited to, exclusion from recess, communal lunch, enrichment activities, sports, school events, trips, or activities)
  • Verbal or written apology to community
  • Staying after school or coming in on Saturdays
  • In-school suspension (possibly immediate) in a buddy classroom
  • Out-of-school suspension (possibly immediate)
  • Other consequences/responses deemed appropriate by school (including, but not limited to, extended suspension for a fixed period)
  • Expulsion

The PDF of the relevant pages is here

I would appreciate your subscribing to this blog….

Thanks,

John

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16 thoughts on “The Rules at Success Academies

  1. John,

    I was a military officer, 1967-69 and we did not experience disciplinary processes as asinine as these. In my book manuscript, I produce a memorandum of the policies of Democracy Prep, which are even worse.

    Utterly shameful.

    Hope you are well.

    Steve

    Like

  2. I write this as a parent of a Success Academy student and as someone who doesn’t necessarily buy into all of the methodology used at SA. I found your segment to be disturbingly one-sided. Where were the interviews with parents of children with behavioral issues who have shown improvement and thrived at Success Academy schools because they are asked to live up to the same expectations as everyone else? Eva Moskowitz is a political lightening rod. There’s no denying that. I don’t agree with all of her theories and practices. But overall, my child has benefited greatly from his experience at a Success Academy School. I expect network news reports on Success Academy schools to be accusatory and sensationalized. I expected PBS to do a better job at being balanced in their reporting. There are thousands of parents of Success Academy students out there who would have willingly been interviewed to give their perspective on this issue, many of whom have had their children suspended on one or more occasions. It’s disappointing that you didn’t interview them as well. Interviewing only a parent of one child who left the SA system and then attacking Moskowitz based on that one experience as well as other anecdotal stories is not good journalism. It seemed that you went into this story with your conclusions already drawn which is something a journalist should never do. The condescending tone of your report was impossible to ignore. Again, as a parent of a Success Academy student I would say there are aspects of their methodology that should be revisited. But you threw out the baby with the bath water and convicted an entire system on the basis of the experiences of a comparatively small number of families.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LONG POST. Alan Singer, as a parent of a Success Academy student, I can tell you, that suspensions are a very small part of most kids’ daily life (despite what you saw in the PBS report).

    I am also a progressive, concerned about the quality of public education in this country, and I can tell you that 80% of the criticism of Success Academy has political undertones and is lacking in facts and balance, mostly coming from my fellow progressives.

    For some progressives, it’s about privatizing of public education – an important national concern, that has little relevance in New York, where all charters are not for profit by law. And some just like to think of Success Academy under the broader rubric of Charters vs. Public schools, which I think is an over-generalized, faulty frame (since there is a number of poor charter schools, and I am not pro-charter per se, but i do support great schools of all stripes).

    For other progressives, it’s about the worker concerns about the diminishing role of unions, another important national concern, and there is also the anti-test advocacy groups, anti common core and so on, so the political landscape is complicated and contentious.

    What gets lost in these hyper-politicized debates is actual facts about Success Academy, which are as follows:

    The school is not for everyone, because it:

    – employs strict discipline,
    – demands active parent involvement
    – has a very long school day
    – has a strong drive for academic performance

    On the upside, it has proven a successful, repeatable model of educating the majority of the kids particularly (but not exclusively) from the economically devastated neighborhoods and terrible zoned schools. How – through all of the above, plus:

    – very rich, custom curriculum (there are easily available details, that I can provide), which include:
    — daily science starting in K,
    — two teachers in the classroom in K and 1st grade,
    — field trips every three weeks,
    – rich take-home book library in every classroom,
    – caring and intensely invested teachers
    – ability for parents to come and sit in during the classroom instruction
    – ability to hire teachers from a very large pool of applicants (albeit often less experienced, than in traditional schools)
    – ability to pay its teacher above market
    – ability to not renew the annual contract with lower-performing teachers
    – separation of roles between principals (focused exclusively on education and teacher training) and Business Operation Managers (runs the rest of the school)
    – very large amount of dedicated and structures teacher development and training time

    and more, all done for less money per student, compared to a traditional public school (private donations to the network are used exclusively for start new schools, but not for maintaining existing schools).

    As I said, about 80% of the criticism is politically motivated and of poor factual quality, but yes, there is also the 20% of legitimate critique:

    – the network’s focus on negative campaigning (emphasizing the failings of other schools, instead of marketing its own accomplishments)
    – Eva Moskowitz’s communication style, sometimes dismissive of legitimate criticisms is another,
    – high turn-over and sub-optimal work/life balance for teachers, and there are a few more.

    But, as a progressive, focused on educational issues, I see that many progressives give Success Academy a short shrift, forgetting that there is a number of problems that have plagued New York’s traditional public schools for years, that Success Academy doesn’t have, such as:

    – Plenty of rigid and detailed classroom and school management rules per the UFT contract, preventing innovation and constraining better teachers and principals
    – Poor pay differentiation between the best and the worst performing teachers, as well as inability to fire bad teachers
    – 1 teacher in the classroom
    – inability of teachers and principals to prevent disruptive and abusive student behavior from impacting other students in the classroom.

    And the biggest thing that Success Academy doesn’t have, is the belief that economic circumstance pre-determines students’ academic outcomes. And that’s a core progressive value.

    Bottom line – there is certainly more than one way to look at Success Academy. But political narratives are cheap, unless they are based in fact and have some semblance of balance. You can write a hundred articles about “what’s wrong with Success Academy” and never understand, what’s right about it.

    Politicians and pundits often focus on the failings of the other side, a la “speck in your brother’s eye”, just so they don’t have to look and their own shortcomings.

    I am, on the other hand, a parent and a progressive, and I support all great schools – traditional, charter – and I support Success Academy. And I hope that parents of traditional and charter schools, including some who disagree with me, can listen and talk to each other, leverage each other’s best practices and leave the acrimony to others.

    And original, fact based and balanced journalism will go a long way to help us improve our public schools.

    Like

  4. […] Just the dismal conclusion that traditional districts are incapable of reform, and doubling down on charter management organizations, despite the truly offensive record of some of them, including current nominees, of excluding special needs children and driving away students who seem likely to do poorly on standardized tests. […]

    Like

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