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Peekskill School Staff Look To Improve Behavior

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Faculty and staff are looking to address behavior issues in the Peekskill City School District after a rise in incidents last school year. Board of education members spoke to district officials at their Tuesday, Sept. 6 meeting about how to accomplish that goal. All agreed that disruptive classroom behavior was an issue that needed to be dealt with.

“Survey results that are coming back are showing that there are a lot of problems with (teachers) not feeling as supported in the classroom as they should be,” said Trustee Douglas Glickert. “Looking at these incidents, it’s a lot for administrators to deal with. They have their hands full.”

District head of security David Santiago gave a recap of superintendent’s disciplinary hearings for the last school year, and said that there was a slight increase from the year before: from 70 to 82 broken down by school, there were 43 incidents in the high school, 17 in the middle school, 14 in Hillcrest, six at Oakside and two from BOCES. Broken down by demographics there were 51 male and 31 females incidents, and 49 blacks, 8 white and 24 Hispanic students committing incidents.

“What caught my attention was we had 38 incidents of assault or staff members being threatened,” Santiago said. “To me that was a serious number to look at and an area we need to explore.”

There were 21 incidents of assault or fighting and 17 incidents that were alcohol or drug related, the latter Santiago said was an increase and a major concern for his staff.

On Tuesday, staff was already enforcing rules such as restricting all students except seniors from leaving the high school, banning food deliveries, and not allowing students to wear hoods in schools. Trustees said they wanted consistency in enforcing rules from classroom to classroom, something that new Superintendent James Willis agreed with.

“You have to be consistent,” Willis said. “Kids will not follow if you have five different teachers following five different rules.”

Trustee and former president Michael Simpkins said he wanted to eliminate cell phone use from the schools because of the prevalence of texting and all the problems it can cause, such as starting fights. “They can be sending out a threat,” Simpkins said. “I have no proof but I guarantee it’s going on.”

Trustee Marcela Bobe disagreed, saying the bad behavior itself should be addressed regardless of how it is committed. “To me, it’s what’s wrong with the behavior, not how the message is circulated,” Bobe said.

Willis said he would be meeting with his staff to see what is currently being done and what else can be done and that the issue would be discussed more thoroughly in the coming months.

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