Concerned Newburgh Free Academy Parents Demand Safety for Their Children
Concerned Newburgh Free Academy Parents Demand Safety for Their Children
Concerned Newburgh Free Academy Parents and Community Members Demand Safety for Their Children
The 2021-2022 school year has been plagued with violence. Numerous horrifying videos have been made public:
Children shooting at one another
Bloody fights where students are left unconscious on the floor in the halls of the school
Graphic threats of violence to entire schools on social media
NFA Parents Instagram (**Warning-this group contains graphic images**)
This has caused fear and panic in our scholars and significantly disrupted academics.
All Newburgh Free Academy campuses were closed 11/18/21, 11/19/21, students transitioned to virtual 2/3/22, and there was a 2 hour delay Tuesday 4/26/22 (many children did not attend because they were afraid) all due to violence that stemmed from or was threatened to the high schools.
There are numerous holds in place and school evacuations due to threats of violence causing disruption of academics, sports, and other extracurricular activities.
The violence has not only caused educational disruptions to the school year, but our children are scared. Fights and bullying happen on a daily basis.
Our children tell us that groups of boys will ask boys at random, “Are you man enough?’ before they collectively beat them up or steal their belongings.
One student witness reported a girl slamming another girl's head into a locker repeatedly without security intervention. Teachers have stated that there are large packs of students (80-100) roaming the halls daily being chased by security with no repercussions.
The district alleges they use restorative practices/restorative justice in their schools. Restorative Justice is an innovative national model and when implemented, with fidelity, can be highly successful.
“Restorative justice (RJ) is a powerful approach to discipline that focuses on repairing harm through inclusive processes that engage all stakeholders. Implemented well, RJ shifts the focus of discipline from punishment to learning and from the individual to the community. However, it is often misperceived and misapplied.
Given the national push to reduce suspensions, some leaders may perceive restorative justice as a way to improve their discipline data rather than a holistic approach to behavior. Seeing RJ through this narrow lens leads to two problems. First, we stop suspending students but fail to deal with the root causes of behavior issues, including the absence of strong relationships and emotional safety at school. Second, operating under intense pressure, leaders may start to unconsciously rig their suspension data rather than invest in the deeper work of building a community.” (Shane Safir)
There is a large majority of administrators currently at the high school level who are new, untenured, inexperienced, and untrained in restorative practices. In addition to this, being untenured makes an administrator vulnerable to being arbitrarily dismissed. They are not able to suspend students that are breaking the code of conduct if central administration is telling them not to. This is perpetuating the problem and creating a very volatile environment for our kids.
We, as parents and community members, want to know:
How many administrators at the high school and in the district on the whole have been trained in restorative justice?
What did this training entail?
Who provided training?
How many training sessions have they received?
Why do we not have an alternative program for students who demonstrate violence in our schools?
Are any of these students who are repeatedly breaking the code of conduct being screened as applicants to NFA West?
What is the district doing to be proactive instead of reactive to threats of violence to our buildings?
What is the Board of Education doing to keep our children safe?
Is the BOE looking at discipline data across the schools and holding central office and building leadership accountable?
We formally request a town hall meeting with the superintendent, high school administration, and NECSD Board of Education to address these important issues.
The students of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District deserve better. They have a right to attend school and to be safe.
As per the NECSD Code of Conduct pg 45
Students have the right to:
1. To attend school in the district in which one’s legal parent or legal guardian resided and receive a free and appropriate public education from age 5 to 21, as provided by law
2. To expect that school will be a safe, orderly and purposeful place for all students to gain an education and to be treated fairly
3. To be respected as an individual and treated courteously, fairly and respectfully by other students and school staff
9. To be protected from intimidation, harassment, or discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, or religious practice, sex, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability, by employees or students on school property or at a school sponsored event, function or activity
Principals, Faculty, and Staff have the responsibility to:
2. Maintain safe and orderly schools by using prevention and intervention strategies, and by following the Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s Conduct of Conduct
4. Be open to active participation in resolving conflicts through a restorative process
5. Be knowledgeable about the policies of the Board of Education and administrative regulations and rules, and enforce them fairly and consistently
15. Report incidents of discrimination and harassment that are witnessed or otherwise brought to the attention of the teacher, school counselor, student support services personnel, or other staff, to the principal, in a timely manner
16. Principals: Follow up on any incidents of discrimination and harassment that are witnessed or otherwise brought to the Principal’s attention in a timely manner in collaboration with the District Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC).
Newburgh Enlarged City School Superintendent has the responsibility to:
1. Promote a safe, orderly, respectful and stimulating environment, free from intimidation, discrimination and harassment, supporting active teaching and learning
2. Review with District administrators the policies of the Board of Education and state and federal laws relating to school operations and management
3. Inform the School Board about educational trends, including student discipline
4. Work to create instructional programs that minimize problems of misconduct and are sensitive to student and teacher needs
5. Work with District administrators in enforcing the Code of Conduct and Intervention Supports and ensuring that all cases are resolved promptly and fairly
6. Address all areas of school-related safety concerns
Newburgh Enlarged City School District Administrators have the responsibility to:
1. Implement policies and procedures that encourage safe and orderly schools for all students, school staff and principals
2. Protect the legal rights of school staff, principals, students and parents or guardians
3. Be open to active participation in resolving conflicts through a restorative process
4. Be courteous, respectful and fair with students, parents or guardians, school staff and principals
9. Provide support and professional development training to principals and school staff to help them support students
10. Support principal and school staff in the fulfillment of their disciplinary responsibilities as defined by Newburgh Enlarged City School District
The Board of Education has the responsibility to:
3. Create policies and procedures that encourage safe and orderly schools for all students, school staff and principals.
4. Lead by example by conducting Board meetings in a professional, respectful, courteous manner. It is further expected that, the Board of Education will take appropriate measures where violations of the Code of Conduct occurs