Schenectady County

School code changes OK’d

Students are once again allowed to bring their cellular phones to school, but please, no calls durin
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Students are once again allowed to bring their cellular phones to school, but please, no calls during class.

The Schenectady Board of Education on Wednesday approved changes to its Code of Conduct for the 2008-09 school year. One change would be to permit cellphones or other electronic devices like MP3 players, iPods and Game Boys on school grounds, but require that they be turned off while in the classroom during instructional time.

The previous policy had banned these devices altogether, which school officials said was difficult to enforce.

“It doesn’t disrupt the educational process at all to have a kid using a cellphone during lunch,” said Superintendent Eric Ely. “We end up doing a lot of monitoring that doesn’t have a lot to do with the education of kids.”

The new policy states that bringing electronic devices is “highly discouraged.” However, the school is still not responsible for loss, theft, damage or vandalism of any electronic devices.

The board also approved a new policy that requires visitors to schools to show a picture form of identification upon entering the buildings.

Board member Linda Bellick said she is concerned that not all parents have a picture identification.

Ely said in that case, school officials will call the administrators that parents want to see and they will come down and escort them to the office.

In addition, another new policy would clearly state that any behavior prohibited at school is also prohibited on the school bus and it created a new category of assault called “group assault,” which is defined as an assault instigated by three people or more.

Also on Wednesday, the board approved the appointment of principals for new facilities. Nancy Fontaine, the interim assistant principal of Mont Pleasant Middle School, will be the principal of Katharine Burr Blodgett Elementary at the former St. Adalbert’s School on Lansing Street. Pedro Roman will be principal of Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary School at the former Immaculate Conception School on Bradt Street.

Fontaine served as interim assistant principal at Mont Pleasant since last year and was the dean of the School of Global Commerce at Schenectady High School from 2005 to 2007. In both positions, Fontaine was responsible for discipline, supervision and guidance.

Before that she was an elementary teacher for many years. Fontaine obtained a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the State University of New York at Oswego and a master’s degree in educational administration and school supervisor administrator (SAS) certification from the State University at Plattsburgh.

Roman served as principal at Capital Region BOCES since June 2007. Before that, he taught special education and served as a dean at Oneida Middle School from September 2001 to June 2007.

The district is leasing these two schools from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany to accommodate the influx of students from the closed International Charter School of Schenectady.

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