NYSAPE on School Policies Regarding Test Refusals

Via NYSAPE, of which the PJSTA is a member…

School Policies Regarding Test Refusals in Some NYS Districts Equate to Corporal Punishment for Students

The leaders of the NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of more than 45 parent and educator groups from throughout the state, expressed that a significant number of parents in NYS may file formal “bullying and harassment” reports against a small number of school districts that may enforce policies which force innocent children to sit in silence for long periods of time with nothing to do for several days in a row if the child’s parent refuses to allow the child to participate in very controversial NYS testing. 

In child care settings for school-age children this type of punishment could be considered corporal punishment by forcing “prolonged lack of movement or motion” and could be a violation of regulations under NYS Social Services Law section 309, part 414.9(e).  These child care regulations also state, under part 414.9(b), that “Any discipline used must relate to the child’s action.”  Punishing a child for following the direction of parents does not relate to the action of the child in any way.  The regulations can be found herehttp://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/regs/414_SACC_regs.asp#s9

Under the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), Article 2, Section 11, Part 7(a), harassment and bullying are defined as the creation of a hostile environment that would interfere with a student’s mental or emotional well-being.  Confining a student to a chair for an hour with nothing to do for six days would certainly create a hostile environment which would interfere with a child’s mental or emotional well-being.  The child has done nothing wrong and is being served with a corporal punishment.  Parents will file formal DASA reports against districts that intend to enforce these policies.  It is clearly harassment and bullying on the part of the school administration and school board to try to persuade parents to allow children to participate in NYS testing.  The regulations can be found herehttp://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/LAWSSEAF.cgi?QUERYTYPE=LAWS+&QUERYDATA=$$EDN11$$@TXEDN011+&LIST=LAW+&BROWSER=EXPLORER+&TOKEN=16202154+&TARGET=VIEW

The following school districts have been reported by parents or have publicly said that they will force students to “sit and stare”:  Williamsville Central School District, Lancaster Central School District, Rush-Henrietta Central School District, Horseheads School District and East Meadow School District.

Parent, Jeanette Deutermann, North Bellmore public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out, is fortunate that her children attend a school that allows children to read when the parent refuses participation in NYS testing.  She goes on to say, “There is no reason for school districts to punish innocent children for an informed decision made by their parents for their protection.  The NYS Education Department allows schools to design policies that could let children read a book, or even provide alternative educational activities, if the parent refuses to allow the child to participate in NYS testing.  This has been verified with the Office of Assessment.  It is pure unnecessary bullying on the part of these school districts to impose these punishments on innocent children.”

Parent, Eric Mihelbergel, Ken-Ton public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE says, “School districts are putting principals and teachers in a situation where they must now decide whether to disobey their superiors or disobey DASA Regulations.  This does not make unions very happy, especially when it is completely and easily avoided.”  NYS United Teachers (NYSUT), which consists of 600,000 members, condemns this type of policy. NYSUT President, Dick Iannuzzi, was quoted as saying, “NYSUT strongly condemns the policy of ‘sit and stare’.”  He went on to say, “This is cruel to those students not taking the exam and a distraction and disservice to those who are attempting to complete it.”  Those statements can be found here http://www.nysut.org/news/2014/february/nysut-strongly-condemns-sit-and-stare-policies  NYSUT has recently demanded that the state education department take a stand against this abusive policy.  That article is available herehttp://www.nysut.org/news/nysut-united/issues/2014/march-2014/nysut-demands-sed-take-stand-against-abusive-sit-and-stare-policy-during-testing

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