Superintendent Thompson Responds

Dear Concerned Community Member,

Thank you for sharing your concerns in a recent email and the opportunity to clarify the action that took place immediately following the incident referenced as occurring on September 11th.

The situation in question was brought to the district’s immediate attention that same day, and a thorough review began immediately so that we could gain a full understanding of the event. Staff, students and witnesses were interviewed and all available video footage from several vantage points was reviewed. We are committed to ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of our students and staff, and cannot speak to the specifics surrounding this particular event. However, it is important to me that you know swift and immediate action was taken. The district made every effort, in accordance with the Code of Conduct and restorative practice guidelines, to ensure the student was able to return to school as quick as possible in an environment that he would feel safe and supported in attending.

I can also tell you that whenever an incident occurs and the actions of students or staff are in question, our policy and procedures are carefully reviewed. Any necessary adjustments are made as quickly as possible. Our protocols used to verbally deescalate were reviewed this summer and again this fall following the incident in question with individuals who serve on the building crisis response teams at Binghamton High School, as well as, other team members across the district. This includes building safety team members and administration. Verbal de-escalation and non-physical intervention are emphasized as part of the district’s protocol when working with students in conflict. We are also adding additional training in the use of culturally responsive approaches so that our staff are equipped with the tools needed to gain a better understanding of our students.

The district remains committed to using a restorative practice model that is proactive and responsive. Our work with Restorative Practices is far from over. It is important when changing practices and approaches to design a meaningful and deliberate plan for implementation. We began our journey in using restorative practices three years ago in response to student behavior at the middle school with training that included all staff, one grade level at a time, who were supported in their learning of restorative circles, the use of respect agreements and restorative conferencing. This then expanded the following year to four elementary schools and the 9th grade academy at Binghamton High School. This year, we have doubled our resources to expand to all K through grade 10 faculty, with 2 full-time and 1 part-time Restorative Practices Coordinators, dedicated to following up the training with support in classrooms and with building leadership. Training will continue annually to include all new faculty and staff, and capture the remaining faculty at Binghamton High School.

Your concerns voiced in this email and my response has been shared with the entire Board of Education, as well as, High School Administration. Thank you again for sharing your concerns and your understanding that the situation in question has been seriously reviewed and significantly addressed.

Tonia Thompson, Superintendent, Binghamton Schools

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