The “Empowering Perth Amboy Parents & Students” conference hosted by The Citizens Campaign earlier this year surfaced important issues in the City's Student School Code of Conduct. Fast forward nearly six months later, much progress has been achieved through the support of the community.
The Citizens Campaign's Perth Amboy Education Task Force initiated a survey to receive feedback from the community using a five question multiple choice survey on school disciple practices. The survey used "restorative justice" and "positive behavioral intervention" models used in the Baltimore School Code of Conduct, which may be addressed at the annual CSC Committee Review.
The five top behavioral issues surveyed included:
- Violating School Uniform Policy
- Cell Phone Use
- Disruptive Behavior
- Violet/ Aggressive Behavior
Using this valuable information, the goal is to create a code of excellence and set a community standard for dealing with the most common in-school misbehavior's such as bringing a cell phone on school property, not wearing the school uniform, or getting into an altercation with another student. Currently, the Perth Amboy School District is reviewing its Code of Student Conduct.
Various agencies including, Raritan Bay Area YMCA, the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development, and the Jewish Renaissance Medical Center participated in the distribution of the surveys. Vanessa Mendez-Gamez, an Outreach Ambassador and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Tropical Cheese Industries, spread the word by placing paper surveys in the lunchroom to an estimated 300 employees, most of which are Perth Amboy residents. "Being that Tropical Cheese Industries is one of the largest employers of the city of Perth Amboy, we are delighted that we have been able to assist in such an important movement and we look forward to assisting the Citizens Campaign in future initiatives."
More then 450 paper surveys were submitted, compared to the 38 online responses, most of which were Perth Amboy parents/guardians and community members. An interesting 16% of respondents submitted feedback were non-residents of Perth Amboy. The majority of the respondents aligned with the Baltimore "Positive" School Code of Conduct Model. 81% surveyors agreed that positive behavioral intervention such as in-class time out to speak on issues that may be bothering a student is a better approach for disruptive / disrespectful behavior rather then in school suspension.
A public presentation will be made by the Perth Amboy Education Task Force at the upcoming Board of Education Meeting on November 20. A resolution was prepared by The Citizens Campaign's Legal Task Force using citizens’ feedback to provide a plan for obtaining community input, establish of a Code of Student Conduct Review Committee; and create a process for training school personnel on the code annually.
Isahony Shaida is a member of The Citizens Campaign's Perth Amboy City Storytellers Bureau, dedicated to telling the stories of citizen leadership and showcasing civic innovation.