Letter: Holmdel Board Response on Ramapo Ruling
Holmdel BOE President Barbara Garrity responds to discussion over the recent state Superior Court of Appeals ruling on the Ramapo Indian Hills BOE conduct policy.
While I appreciate Mr. Collins’s discussion of the most recent Ramapo ruling, I don’t agree that decision invalidates our existing district policy and Code of Conduct. Under the Ramapo decision, the language of our policy is fine. The key will be how it's applied on a case-by-case basis.
The first Ramapo ruling came down when Mike was still on the Board. As we discussed the Code of Conduct then, the issue was that some Board members wanted to eliminate completely our right to impose on-campus consequences for ANY off-campus misconduct. They thought such misconduct should be addressed only by parents and law enforcement. However the majority of the Board felt that we should keep this discretion, permitted by statute and regulation, because we could envision situations in which off-campus problems could become an on-campus safety and discipline issues -- e.g., gang or other fights, driving so bad that it endangers the safety of others, etc.
Information about off-campus misconduct typically comes to the district through police reports triggered by the Memorandum of Agreement between us and law enforcement, which the state requires for all school districts. I would note that as a practical matter it has been rare for a student to lose on-campus driving privileges. Usually the counseling-type discussion between student and administrator that follows a first serious driving violation report reminds the student both of the need for care while driving in our crowded parking lot, and of our desire to keep everyone on campus safe, including him or her.
We will continue to apply on-campus consequences for off-campus misconduct when that misconduct rises to the level where it poses a significant risk to student or staff safety and security, and also materially and substantially interferes with school discipline. We will continue to rely on the advice of counsel in reaching that determination on a case-by-case basis.
President, Holmdel Board of Education