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Syracuse schools, attorney general reach settlement on discipline

Ryan Delaney
Syracuse public school Superintendent Sharon Contreras. (file photo)

The Syracuse public school district and the state attorney general's office say they've reached a settlement to curb the district's alarmingly high suspension rate.

The district will amend its code of conduct under the agreement. 

The attorney general's civil rights office launched its investigation in October 2013, after several complaints.

It found that during the 2012-13 school year, 30 percent of students in the district were suspended, a significant portion of which were for non-violent acts. That gave Syracuse one of the highest rates of suspension in the nation, the attorney general said.

Black students were also suspended twice as often as white students, the investigation found.

The district said the findings are consistent to what its own investigations have found. It believes it's "making progress," school board president Michelle Mignano said in a statement.

“We still have difficult work ahead in order to implement appropriate disciplinary policies and practices," Superintendent Sharon Contreras is quoted in a news release.

The superintendent's office said it will not comment further.

The settlement states that, in addition to overhauling the district's code of conduct, the city school district will appoint people to oversee the implementation. And the district will upgrade its record keeping of discipline.

Security and safety officers will be retrained. Last, the district must implement a better system of notifying families when students are disciplined.