South Colonie Safe Schools Plan
South Colonie has had a Safe Schools Plan in place since 2001. The lengthy report outlines in detail student behavior expectations and consequences for all grade levels. The plan is required of all school districts under Project SAVE legislation in effect since 2000.
A South Colonie committee, which includes administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, students, citizens and local law enforcement, developed the plan over a 12-month period. The plan incorporates many of the district’s already existing policies regarding student behavior and expectations but brings it into alignment with precedent-setting legal cases and further rulings by the New York State Commissioner of Education.
The Safe Schools Plan covers a broad range of issues including student behavior expectations and range of consequences, the removal of disruptive students from the classroom, attendance and discipline policies, student dress code and codes of conduct. Behavior expectations are broken down into three sections — grades K-4, middle school and high school.
For more information on student behavioral expectations, code of conduct and other policies related to district safety please visit the Board of Education Student Policies (5000-5800) section at the link below:
Emergency Telephone Notification System/School Closing, Delays and Early Dismissals
In addition to the traditional school closing information broadcast on local television/radio stations, newspapers, South Colonie SNN and Facebook, and posted on this website, the district has instituted a Parent Emergency Telephone Notification System. Blackboard Connect provides direct automatic phone communications to parents and guardians in the event of an unexpected early dismissal, weather delays and cancellations, notifications of school emergencies and specific community outreach messages.
The success of this notification system depends upon the district’s system calling the correct phone numbers in order of priority. Please make sure your child’s school has this information updated regularly each school year, when you purchase a new cell phone, if you move, if you change daycare providers, etc. The first phone number on the priority list will be used as the primary emergency contact phone number. Then, if additional numbers are available and are made available to our database, the system will also contact those numbers. If there are parents/guardians living in separate locations, please include the phone numbers for them as the additional contact numbers.
While this system offer numerous advantages, it however, it cannot dial extension numbers. Therefore, please use a number that will directly reach you.
New York State law through Project SAVE requires that the Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability conduct fingerprint supported criminal history background checks for applicants for certification and all prospective employees of school districts, charter schools and BOCES.
What else does Project SAVE require school districts to do?
- Grant teachers more authority to remove disruptive or violent students from the classroom.
- Provide two hours of violence prevention and intervention training as part of the certification process for teachers, aides and administrators.
- Devote part of one staff development day to safety training each year.
Integrate civilry, citizenship and character education into K-12 curriculum.
- Increase the penalty for assault on school grounds from a misdemeanor to a felony.
- File an annual report on all violent incidents to the NYS Commissioner of Education.
Tight school security
School security is a balancing act. The bottom line is that we must create an environment that’s safe and inviting to learn without building a fortress. If you’ve visited one of our schools you know that security is tight. Visitors are not allowed to walk freely throughout the buildings unchecked. Doors are kept locked and visitors are required to sign in at the main office.
All staff have security badges and monitors are stationed throughout the schools to keep a watch on the doors and suspicious activity. All new employees, including teachers, are fingerprinted before they are hired and extensive background checks on done by the State Education Department and FBI. Even our school buses have security cameras to keep them safe.
The district’s Code of Conduct says that any student who brings a firearm on school property is automatically expelled from school for not less than one year.
A police presence
The district has always had a strong police presence in our schools from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program in the middle schools to the Student Resource Officer (SRO) at Colonie Central High School.
A major part of the SRO’s day is spent walking through the halls greeting staff and students, dropping by the cafeteria, visiting study halls, in-school suspension rooms and classrooms by invitation. The idea is to get to know students and staff, learn more about school programs and policies and to be visible and accessible to everyone.
Building good character in children starts at a very early age. That’s what character education is all about. Character education is a curriculum aimed at promoting values of common decency, compassion, tolerance and good citizenship at all age levels. It is meant to complement the three “R”s, technology and all of the other educational tools we use to produce successful graduates.
Teachers incorporate character development right into their lesson plans. In many buildings it starts with the morning assembly program where staff highlight a particular virtue through role-playing, instruction, song and discussion. Special guests help bring each virtue to life. A “word or quality of the month” is the focus in our schools and it is reinforced in the classrooms with special activities, readings, writing and art assignments, research, computer lessons and more. These qualities include responsibility, self-discipline, cooperation and friendship, among others.
Through character education, our elementary schools teach children to develop good self-esteem as a product of responsible behavior, assume responsibility for their actions, know right from wrong, respect the rights of others, maximize their own time and talents, work cooperatively with others, develop decision-making and problem-solving skills and resist negative peer pressure.
Drug Abuse Resistance Education: The D.A.R.E. Program
South Colonie Schools, working in partnership with the Colonie Police Department, has been an active participant in the D.A.R.E. program for many years. D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and much more! D.A.R.E. is a highly acclaimed program that gives middle school kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence. D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles and has proven so successful that it is now being implemented in 75 percent of the nation’s school districts and in more than 43 countries around the world. D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. Lessons focus on providing students with accurate information about alcohol and drugs, teaching students decision-making skills, showing students how to resist peer pressure and giving students ideas for alternatives to drug use and violence.
Annual Go Home Early Drill
Each fall, South Colonie Schools sends its students home 15 minutes early to test its Emergency Management Plan. The date is listed each school year on the district calendar. The “Go Home Early Drill” is required once a year by the New York State Education Department. The drill date is published each year in the district calendar. The purpose of the early dismissal drill is to test the effectiveness of the transportation and communications systems in the event of an emergency. Copies of the Emergency Management Plan are located in the Principal’s Office of each school, and at the District Office, 102 Loralee Drive, Albany.
The Dignity For All Students Act (DASA)
The Dignity for All Students Act was signed into law on September 13, 2010. This legislation amended State Education Law by creating a new Article 2 – Dignity for All Students. The Dignity Act also amended Section 801-a of New York State Education Law regarding instruction in civility, citizenship, and character education by expanding the concepts of tolerance, respect for others and dignity to include: an awareness and sensitivity in the relations of people, including but not limited to, different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, gender identity, and sexes. The Dignity Act further amended Section 2801 of the Education Law by requiring Boards of Education to include language addressing The Dignity Act in their codes of conduct. Additionally, under the Dignity Act, schools will be responsible for collecting and reporting data regarding material incidents of discrimination and harassment.
DASA Coordinators in South Colonie are each school principal. For more information on DASA:
South Colonie water testing information
During the 2016-2017 school year, South Colonie Central School District tested approximately 850 potable water sources for lead at all academic buildings. These sources included drinking fountains, sink faucets in classrooms, restrooms, and faucets in kitchen/cafeteria areas. Any water source which was above the allowable 0.15 mg/L or 15 parts per billion, was immediately shut off to allow for remediation or, if required, removal. No source was turned on again until new tests confirmed passing results.
(The district-wide report includes test results from all schools)