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Assurance of Discontinuance

A commitment to ending disproportionality

in student suspension rates

In response to the December 2015 findings of an investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the City School District of Albany has reaffirmed its commitment to changing discipline practices and procedures that have perpetuated disproportionate suspension rates for black students and students with disabilities.

 

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an agreement with the district that all parties believe will foster safe and effective school climates for each of the district’s 9,500 students.

 

The investigation began in February 2015 and included a review of suspension data between the 2009-10 and 2013-14 school years. The report found that the district suspended an average of 1 in 8 students out of school, and that those suspended students lost a total of more than 7,000 days of school each year as a result.

 

Black students were three times more likely to be suspended than their white peers. Students with disabilities were twice as likely to be suspended as students without disabilities, and three times as likely to receive multiple suspensions in the same school year. Visit the attorney general's website to read the news release. You also can click here to download the full agreement.

 

The report credited the district for taking steps both before and since the investigation began to address the suspension disparities. Those steps included revisions to the Code of Conduct that took effect in the 2014-15 school year, updated procedures to ensure due process for students in disciplinary matters and new approaches to discipline that do not rely on suspension from a class or school.

 

However, those steps have not been consistently implemented district-wide, according to the report.

 

In addition to its continued commitment to the steps noted in the attorney general’s report, including continued training for staff and further revisions to the Code of Conduct, the district will continue to prioritize social-emotional supports for students in schools such as psychologists and social workers.

 

Partnerships that bring more community resources into school also will be a priority.

 

As part of the agreement, the district also has hired an independent monitor to provide oversight and audit the district’s compliance, and an ombudsperson to support the work, assure full compliance with the district's Code of Conduct and taking complaints about student discipline.

 

Independent monitor

The City School District of Albany appointed former long-time district administrator Maxine Fantroy-Ford, Ed.D., to fill the independent monitor position required by the Assurance of Discontinuance agreement with the New York State Attorney General's Office.
 
An Albany High School graduate, Dr. Fantroy-Ford previoulsy served the district in a variety of roles over a 35-year career before retiring after the 2011-12 school year. She brings a deep knowledge of our city and our school district to this critical new position.

 

Dr. Fantroy-Ford began her career in the district in 1977 as an art teacher at Arbor Hill Elementary Community School. She was appointed principal of Giffen Memorial Elementary School in 1983, the first of three stints leading the South End elementary school.

 

In 1990, Dr. Fantroy-Ford became the district's magnet schools director, and oversaw the opening of the district’s four magnet programs, which have been recognized over the years by both the state and federal governments for their achievements (the program at Philip Livingston Magnet Academy ended when that middle school closed after the 2008-09 school year).

 

Dr. Fantroy-Ford returned to serve as Giffen's principal in 1997, establishing high standards for students, teachers and parents. She rallied the school community around the goal of increased student performance. Her leadership paid off: test scores increased, afterschool programming grew, and home, community and school relationships strengthened through initiatives such as the school’s Family Resource Center. She served as principal at Albany High from August 2006 until the end of the 2008-09 school year, returning once again to lead Giffen until her retirement.  

 

Her role as a part-time independent monitor is to ensure compliance with the district’s agreement with the attorney general with respect to disciplinary policies, procedures and practices.

 

She has independence with respect to access to and review of records, documents and data to analyze and document the extent to which the district is complying with the agreement. She will prepare and submit quarterly reports to the attorney general documenting the district’s compliance with each provision of the agreement. In addition, she will make recommendations to the acting superintendent, Board of Education and attorney general as necessary to promote and ensure compliance with the Assurance.
 
You can reach Dr. Fantroy-Ford at mfantroy-ford@albany.k12.ny.us or 475-6622.

 

Ombudsperson

Valarie Ann Scott is the City School District of Albany's ombudsperson, a part-time position also required by the Assurance of Discontinuance agreeement with the New York State Attorney General's Office.

 

Scott, who got her start as a teacher at the elementary level in Albany from 1982-84, served as a teacher and administrator in the Schenectady City School District from 1989 until her retirement in 2015. She served as an elementary principal in Schenectady from 2002-15.

 

As the district’s ombudsperson, Scott is charged with promoting procedural and substantive fairness and full compliance with the district’s Code of Conduct, and state and federal laws. A key element of her role is soliciting and taking complaints about student discipline from parents, students, staff members and community advocates, investigating and evaluating these complaints, and serving as liaison with the district’s administrative staff, including but not limited to the director of pupil personnel services, the director of special education and the superintendent, to resolve these complaints.

 

Please follow this link to contact the ombudsperson with a complaint about student discipline.

 

The ombudsperson position also was created to identify systemic issues that diminish fairness, impede full compliance with the Code of Conduct and the law, or impair full communication between the district and parents, students, staff members and community advocates.

 

Scott does not participate in formal adjudicative or administrative procedures, but does provide information to parents, students, staff members and community members about these procedures and the Code of Conduct while promoting and encouraging parents and students to fully engage in the student’s education and, where necessary, the student disciplinary process.

 

You can reach Scott at vscott@albany.k12.ny.us or 475-6623.

 

 

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