Note: This handbook is currently out of date.   As newer information is provided, it will be linked as a separate page to the table of contents in italics. 


Mission Statement
Educational Philosophy
Administrative Structure
Parents Association

General Information
Arrival and Absence
Staff Norms
Phone and Mail
School Publications
Visitors and Events
Student Teachers
Transportation and Parking
Committees and Memberships
Building, Maintenance, Work Orders
Equipment and Machines
Supplies, Materials, and Keys
Professional Development, Critical Friends Groups and Staff Roundtables

Working With Students
Curriculum Planning
Student Assessment
Classroom Management
Identification Cards
Daily Life
Fire Drills
Field Trips
Student Health Care and Emergencies
Communication with Parents and Families
Home and School
Staff Entrance Agreement


A Coalition of Essential Schools "Ten Common Principles"


University Heights Secondary School is a New York City Board of Education (BOE) school. The school falls within the Alternative Superintendency and provides an alternative route to academic success. Also it is a Collaborative School with the City University of New York, located on the campus of Bronx Community College. Most classes are held in Nichols Hall, although the school has use of the College's facilities including computer labs, gymnasium, and library. Since it opened in February, 1987, University Heights has been a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), and it is a founding member of the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE). It is also an original member of New York's New Compact for Learning, working closely with the State Education Department's attempts to establish standards and authentic assessments,

University Heights is a coeducational, college preparatory school enrolling 420 students in grades 6 through 12. Most students are either Hispanic or African-American. Although students may attend from any of the five boroughs, the majority live in the Bronx and upper Manhattan.

The school is organized in three teams. The Middle School is called Dreamkeepers and occupies the 2nd floor. The High School is divided into two teams: Spirit occupies the 3rd floor; 4th Dimension occupies the 4th floor. The program is heavily weighted towards personalizing the curriculum for each student and developing strong, positive relationship

We are a community of learners that includes students, staff, parents, and university and community partners. We focus on the whole person and insist that we all use our minds well in order to develop intellectually, socially, physically, and ethically. We are continually seeking to refine the skills, areas of knowledge, values, and habits of mind that we believe are essential to our being productive and well-educated.

Our goals are two fold: to have students graduate by demonstrating mastery of habits of learning; and to maximize the success of all members of the community.

We emphasize respect for oneself and for others, appreciating that all of these come through a sense of achievement. We recognize that for students to reach high standards, we must find ways for them to take responsibility for their own learning. Faculty and staff work along side students, helping them to reach the standards of our community.

It is our experience that students succeed most often when their families and the school work together.

Policy Council, January 1996


University Heights is a school dedicated to traditional educational goals: sound academic preparation for college and beyond in an informal setting that supports and respects the individual. Our aim is to produce confident, independent thinkers who are unafraid to accept the challenges of functioning at the optimum levels of their abilities.

We seek to implement the Nine Common Principles of CES (see Appendix A) and the Thirteen Principles of CES (see Appendix 6) by creating a community where cooperation rather than competition between students is stressed and where mutual trust between teacher and student plays a central role in shaping the learning experience. University Heights is committed to providing a setting where pressures for sameness are reduced and a student's individuality is treated with respect and dignity by the entire community. Through our teaching, we attempt to create classrooms in which the give and take of ideas and the honoring of the work process enables students to become active, thoughtful, and passionate learners, willing to explore new areas of intellectual growth and to apply that learning beyond the classroom.

Following one of the Nine Common Principles, Less is More, University Heights emphasizes depth rather than breadth within the curriculum. In September, 1996 to facilitate this, we reorganized the curriculum into three areas: Humanities; Math, Science, & Technology; and Service & Health.

Lastly to be promoted and to graduate, students must create a portfolio of their curricular work to demonstrate Mastery within each of our five Domains (see Appendix C). The Domains are areas that have been identified and refined over several years of discussions with numerous and diverse representatives of society including colleges, businesses, the Board of Education, faculty, parents, and students. We view them as significant areas that are required in order to be a fully functional member of society. To Master a Domain, a student prepares a portfolio of relevant work and presents this as evidence at a Roundtable. At the Roundtable, the student has an hour to make a case for Mastery of the Domain to a group who will evaluate the evidence; this group includes the teacher, a family member, peers, and outside guests.


The Parents Association (PA) serves as a liaison between parents and the faculty and administration of University Heights School. The PA office is in Room 203 on the 2nd floor. The PA sponsors a number of events during the school year, including a school-wide trip and several fund raising events. PA representatives participate in our Intake (Admissions) process and sit on Policy Council. The PA also organizes parents to sit at Roundtables when a student cannot get a family member to attend,

Parents are encouraged to express appreciation to teachers through letters or donations to the school such as in the form of books. They are discouraged from giving gifts to teachers.



Signing In

All faculty must "sign in". This is usually done during Morning Meeting by one of the Off ice Staff who notes who is present. Faculty who are late should check in with the Office Staff to show that they are present.

Faculty Hours

Faculty are expected to be in the Staff Room before 8:30 for Morning Meeting, during which professional opportunities, staff coverages, and schedule changes are announced and discussed. Faculty should be in their classrooms before 9:00 when students come, and again before 1:00 when students return from lunch. Faculty are expected to attend Staff Development on Wednesdays from 3:15 to 5:15, and they are compensated on a per session basis. They are also expected to be at Team/Seminar Meetings Tuesdays from 3:15 - 5:15 for which they will be compensated on a per session basis for one hour.

Leaving the Building

If you leave the building during school hours, please inform the Off ice Staff so that the school will know your whereabouts in case of emergency.


If you are ill and cannot come to work, please contact your seminar leader and your Director as soon as possible. In the morning, call at home before 7:00 a.m. If you know the day before, let your leaders know then. If the seminar leader determines that a substitute teacher is needed, the Director will arrange for this.

Emergency School Closings

Listen for announcements about weather-related school closings on radio stations such as WOR 710 AM.

Jury Duty

If called for jury duty, arrange to serve when it is least disruptive to your students.


We agree that we all must use our own judgment about our own needs and at the same time we must consider the needs of the whole school, especially the needs of the students. We treat all staff as consummate professionals. We understand the following expectations:

1. We subscribe to the Nine Common Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools (see Appendix A).

2, We are on time for Morning Meeting at 6:30. If you know that you'll be late, call the Front Office. Read H-Files. Back issues are available if you are absent. Clear your mailboxes regularly. Be on time for all meeting. Be respectful of your colleagues as all of our time is valuable.

3. We pay particular attention to student attendance and punctuality. Follow the appropriate procedures.

4. We are present every day. Let your Director know of absences as far ahead as possible so that a substitute can be arranged when seminar co-teachers cannot cover. Be judicious about outside professional development. Record upcoming absences on Irma's Calendar.

5. Early on, we develop positive relationships with parents and guardians. Call home for positive as well as negative reasons.

6. We are cognizant of appearances, both your own and that of the students. Have Family Group discussions about appropriate school attire, Perhaps we can bypass the uniform issue.

7. We realize that small things contribute to a largely positive school culture. Negative talk and behavior simply make our jobs more difficult. Speak up appropriately and assertively when you experience a problem. Don't wait until it gets out of control.

8. We work collaboratively as a community, using a process of consensus building. We practice it ourselves and help students to practice it.

9. We reinforce the principles of conflict resolution. Remember that all conflicts must be resolved. Get students involved as mediators whenever possible. reach out to your Guidance Staff liaison if you encounter a situation that is difficult to handle.

10 We remember the rules of confidentiality. Discussions with students around sensitive issues are kept private. It you learn something that in your judgment might cause a health or safety hazard, indicate your intention to the student, then share your concern with a Guidance Staff member.

11 . We are consistent with the way we work with students, including adherence to previous agreements. Where we disagree with a policy or decision, we continue to work with it until it is discussed and/or changed.



Mail sent to faculty and staff should be sent to the attention of that person at:

University Heights Secondary School Nichols Hall, BCC West 181st Street & University Avenue Bronx, NY 10453

Faculty and staff mail boxes are located in the Staff Room on the first floor, room #116. Please keep them empty.


The main switch board phone number for UHHS is 718 289 5300. The fax number is 718 295 7572.

Dial "9" to get an outside line.

There are phones in most offices, but there are none in classrooms. The actual telephones (the physical machines themselves) function only within the BCC system to discourage theft. Telephone messages that come in during the day will be left either in the front office or in your Director's voice mailbox. Please check your messages several times a day. If you are calling someone within the BCC system, you can dial the extension, a tour digit number, or use the intercom, a two digit number. The intercom saves the school money- Faculty and staff are responsible for their personal long distance phone calls. If you need to make a business related long distance call, arrange this with Irma Gonzales, room #118.

You can dial "911" directly from any telephone at any time.

However BCC Security requests that we call them first and let them call "911 ". This will expedite the arrival of emergency personnel and vehicles.

BCC Security's four digit number is 5390


Faculty and Staff Directories

A printout of faculty and staff home addresses and phone numbers will be distributed at the start of the year. Also distributed will be a list of faculty and staff office numbers and phone extensions.

BCC publishes a list of their staff and phone numbers which includes the Departments and campus facilities.

Family and Student Addresses

A printout of the students in each Family Group including parent/guardian names, addresses, and phone numbers will be distributed at the start of the year to each Family Group teacher. If you learn of changes, please let the Office Staff know promptly.

Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Calendars

BOE puts out a school year calendar indicating vacations, holidays, staff development days, and the beginning and end of semesters. This will be distributed in the beginning of the school year. Using this as a framework, UHSS has developed a calendar that includes cycle dates, Roundtable Weeks, events, and graduation.

Every week, BCC puts out a weekly calendar of events on campus.

H-Files is published daily and distributed during Morning Meeting. H-Files includes reports from the various committees, announcements, staff development opportunities, recognitions, schedule changes, etc. It is important to be familiar with the contents of H-Files,

University Heights Publications

Annual Report

The Parent Newsletter is produced monthly by the Parents Association and UHHS staff . It contains lists of which students are on Good Standing, school news, upcoming events, and personal interest stories.

"Daily Heights" is the school student newspaper. It is published periodically.

The Yearbook comes out at the end of the school year.


Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are provided in the Staff Room, #116. This service is provided for staff and guests. It is not for students.

Staff Room

Room #116 is the Staff Room. This is where Morning Meeting is held and where the mailboxes are. Often curricular meetings, Fairness, and other meetings are held in the Staff Room.

Rest Rooms

Faculty and students use the same rest rooms


Smoking is not permitted in Nichols Hall or in any of the buildings on campus.


There is one elevator which is reserved for adults. Students who are unable to walk up or down the stairs may use the elevator if they have a letter from their physician. Students should show this letter to the Irma Gonzales and get an elevator pass.

Recreational Activities

Some people organize informal recreational activities that are open to UHHS staff such as basketball and attending sporting events. These may be posted in H-files or announced at Morning Meeting, or feel free to organize your own!



Many visitors come to UHHS from all over the world. They come for many reasons, but the majority have been invited to attend and participate in Roundtables. if you expect a visitor, it is important to let the school know in advance for security reasons. Please inform Irma Gonzales in room # 11 & If your visitor is driving, BCC Security needs to know so that a parking permit can be issued.


Assemblies are periodically scheduled throughout the school year. In general, students should sit by Family Group or by seminar. Some assemblies are more formal than others. Family Group teachers should advise students about appropriate behavior. Classes should arrive five minutes before the assembly.

Special Events

A number of special events occur throughout the school year, some associated with holidays, others related to student activities and presentations. These include a large potluck dinner before Thanksgiving, Field Day, and a Talent Show.

Commencement is held at the end of the school year.

Faculty and Staff Parties

For the winter holiday, there is a potluck gathering. At the end of the year, the Principal hosts a party, Dates and details will be provided closer to the events.


UHSS sponsors students teachers from several schools including NYU, City College, and the New School. Teachers new to UHSS should not consider taking on a student teacher because of the difficulties adjusting and learning the ropes of a new school. However once you are reasonably settled, having another adult in the classroom is well worth the additional work involved with having a student teacher.



Faculty can park their vehicles on campus provided they purchase a permit sticker and display it in the vehicle's window. The permit costs $85 and can be purchased from 6CC Security with registration and BCC faculty identification.

There is usually parking available on the street, but this in not advisable because many faculty vehicles left on the street have been vandalized or stolen.


Some faculty and staff bicycle to and from school. There is no designated storage in Nichols Hall. There is a bike rack by the entrance to Tech 11 which has been a safe storage space in the past.


Faculty Meetings

All faculty are required to participate in Morning Meeting, Staff Development, and Team meetings. In addition, Seminars should arrange schedules so that each faculty member can attend their respective Curriculum Planning Group meetings. New teachers are required to attend Newish Meeting. This meets weekly and is designed to help teachers understand and flourish in a new environment. If you will be absent from a meeting, contact the facilitator of the meeting,

Morning Meeting Monday - Friday 8:30 - 8:45

Staff Development Wednesday 3:15 - 5:15

Team/Seminar Tuesday 315 - 5:15

Humanities Monday 1:00 - 3:00

Service & Health Tuesday 1:00 - 3:00

Math, Science, & Technology Wednesday 1:00 - 3:00

Newish Meeting Tuesday 12:30 - 1:00

Directors Thursday 1:00 - 3:00

Long Term Planning Monday 3:15 - 5:15

Policy Council second Monday of the month

The Long Term Planning Committee is an advisory group formed by the Principal.

Policy Council is the group responsible for providing the general direction of the school and for broad policies. Policy Council includes representatives from all constituencies: students, faculty, administration, parents, union, and BCC. All are welcome to attend.

School Memberships

University Heights is a member of a number of professional organizations. These include the Coalition for Essential Schools, The Center for Collaborative Education, and Networks for School Renewal.

In September, 1996, UHSS began a four year relationship with Students at the Center (SATC).

Special Committees

Faculty and staff wear many hats at UHHS. As a school, we have formed various committees to address particular issues or to solve problems. If interested, please contact your Director or the committee point person.


Nichols Hall is cleaned daily by a crew of custodians most of whom arrive after school hours. In general, they wash the chalkboards, empty trash bins, sweep the floors and halls, and clean the bathrooms. Periodically, they strip and wax the floors.

The custodians will leave anything remaining on table tops and counters because it might be student work. Also, they will not rearrange furniture. These are things that the faculty and students should do before leaving for the day. Faculty and students should also close all windows, shut down computers, turn off the lights, and lock the doors before leaving.

Occasionally, the custodians are called by their supervisor to clean another building on campus, and Nichols will be no cleaner than when we left the day before.

If a door or window is broken or there is a leak, something more significant than routine cleaning, inform your Director who will submit a Work Order request to Irma Gonzales who then relays it to maintenance. Sometimes these repairs take a while so that the sooner the Work Order is submitted, the better. Although maintenance tries to work around our school schedule so as to be least disruptive, there are times when workers show up during school hours. Please do not send them away. Our experience has been that if you do, it takes another month or two before they return. 12


Gymnasium, Track, and Field

University Heights has use of BCC's Alumni Gymnasium and its track and field. The gymnasium includes a large basketball court, Project Adventure elements, dance studio, swimming pool, Dojo, weight room, and locker rooms. There are also two tennis courts and a handball court. Currently, UHSS does not have access to the Fitness Room, and we must work around the BCC course schedule. In the beginning of each semester, we will learn of available hours and arrange our schedule accordingly.

To maintain a positive working relationship, it is imperative that we follow some rules. Staff and students must enter through the back entrance. All students must be accompanied by a supervising UHSS staff member- Staff and students must wear appropriate gear: swim suits in the pool, bare feet in the Dojo, sneakers on the basketball court, etc,


University Heights has use of the BCC library in Tech 11 which has a good periodical section, computer access to the World Wide Web, as well as the usual references, abstracts, and stacks. The BCC library is a part of the CUNY inter-library loan system. BCC offers an orientation of the facility.

Across University Avenue is the Francis Martin Public Library which can get any book in the New York Public Library system through inter-library loan. Francis Martin has been very helpful in assisting our classes. Call to arrange a visit.

University Heights is in the process of creating its own library, presently housed in room #200A, At this point, individual books are only organized in broad themes. Class readers (sets of 30 or more) are mostly boxed, labeled, and located in room #425B.

Computer Labs

THe BOE has recently given UHSS a computer lab which will eventually be located in room #2008. The rest of the computers have been placed directly in the classrooms. This helps to reinforce notions that computers are tools that Gan be used with regularity and as a part of a learning environment. We believe that such an arrangement facilitates computer literacy among both students and staff.

Currently we have approximately 45 PCs and 15 Macintosh computers in the classrooms and a lab of 34 PC computers. We are working to have them all networked. In addition, UHSS has access to some of BCC's computer labs. Ask your Director about making use of these.

Our system of assessment demands much writing and rewriting from students. The bulk of this is done on computers, and currently our computers are mostly used as word processors. However we have and use other programs including spreadsheet, data base, drawing, and multimedia presentation programs. We have also developed a digital portfolio program. We anticipate students creating their own multimedia digital portfolios within each Domain which will be accessible to the World Wide Web.

LYFE Center

UHSS now houses the program, Living for the Young Family through Education (LYFE). This program is a part the BOE Alternative Superintendency. It is designed to help young parents finish their high school education by providing care for their children and information about how to care for their children.


Copying Machines

There are a number of copying machines in school, but in general the machines will last longer if only a couple of people use them. Therefore 3rd and 4th faculty should submit requests to Lucia Vega in room #312 at least 24 hours in advance. 2nd floor faculty should submit requests to Millie Kasabalis. Please do not make copies of personal items with school machines.

Facsimile Machines

The school has one tax machine located in the front office, room # 118. Faculty and staff may use this. The number is 718 295 7572. If uncertain about how to operate the facsimile machine, ask Irma Gonzales.

Binding and Laminating Machines

The Front Office has a binding and a laminating machine. In general, Queenie Wilson does the laminating.

Audio-Visual Equipment and Services

A variety of audio-visual equipment is available. Teachers are encouraged to use these both as aids in the classroom and for their professional development. The school also provides opportunities for students to take an active role in using the equipment. Floors 2, 3, and 4 each have at least one TVNCR set up on a cart. Sign-up sheets are posted on the AV room door. Other available equipment: overhead projectors slide projector portable cassette/CD player video cameras still shot cameras video editing equipment film development equipment

The school does not maintain a large collection of curricular-related media. This is in keeping with our emphasis on experiential learning. The BOC Learning Center has a larger collection.


The front office keeps classroom supplies. Contact Queenie Wilson. Because University Heights is a BOE school, a CUNY Collaborative School, and a member of several organizations, we have several ,different budgets, some more restrictive than others. Submit requests to your Director so that the appropriate budget can be selected.

Tax-Exempt Forms

As a non-profit institution, University Heights Secondary School has tax-exempt status. Taxexempt forms are available from your Director and from Betty Spencer in room #105.

Petty Cash Reimbursement

It you pay for materials yourself and need to be reimbursed, submit receipts to your Director. For receipts and purchases more than $50, you must get approval from your Director.

Teacher's Choice

Each year, the BOE provides teachers with a small amount of money in the form of a check to spend as they see fit. For 1998, you can anticipate a $200 check. It may not be issued until later in the Fall Semester, but receipts will be honored from September onward. Keep your receipts and submit them when the appropriate forms arrive.


Keys are available for classroom and certain hall doors. If you need keys, contact your Director who will relay the request to the locksmith on campus. Sometimes this takes a couple of weeks.


University Heights encourages teachers to seek out resources to assist them in their professional growth. We recognize that it can feel isolating to deal with issues relating to teacher development without outside input. Look for support from colleagues and the various meetings you attend: Newish, Team, Seminar, Curriculum, and Staff Development.


Many teachers find it helpful to have their lessons videotaped for either collaborative or selfassessment of their teaching. The AV department is happy to provide this service for any interested individuals. Teachers who choose to have themselves videotaped should know that the tape is for their own development only, and is never used as a device for formal evaluation. Some teachers may choose to engage in collaborative critiques of their videotapes. This is done at their own discretion.

Professional Publications and Workshops

Subscriptions to professional publications and participation in outside workshops are sometimes funded by the school. Submit requests to your Director. The Union and the Superintendency for Alternative Schools provide workshops and training. Also check H-Files for announcements.

Professional Publications in School

Our developing library and the collections of many faculty contain materials pertaining to education. Requests for additional publications and books should be submitted to your Director.

Newish Meeting

Teachers who are new to the profession and teachers who are new to UHSS must attend, however all are welcome. Newish meets every Tuesday 12:30 - 1:00. It is an opportunity to understand UHSS practices, and examine educational issues, child development, and other topics of interest.

Critical Friends Groups and Staff Roundtables

To help faculty and staff reflect upon their work and improve their practice, each is a member of a Critical Friends Group (CFG). These are formed in the beginning of the school year. CFGs are provided time to meet every month during Staff Development meetings and Team Meetings. At the start of the year, arrangements are made to visit each other's classrooms, and each member's professional goals are identified and articulated. During subsequent meetings, each member is provided a large block of time to present something to the CFG for feedback; examples include student work, a lesson plan, journal entries, and video tape of a class.

Twice a year towards the end of the semester, faculty and staff present work and Cover Letters at Staff Roundtables. The Roundtable is largely comprised of CFG members, but also includes students, parents of students, and outside guests



University Heights teachers actively participate in the development, planning, and implementation of curriculum, In addition in the 1996-1997 school year, the school initiated Curriculum Planning Groups to facilitate the implementation of the different discipline areas. Most Seminars are comprised of either two or three Family Groups and three teachers, and each teacher is responsible for one of three curricular areas, Humanities: Math, Science & Technology, and Service & Health.


In order to make academic progress at UHSS, students must meet certain benchmarks which have been established by Policy Council (see Appendix D).

Good Standing

Good Standing indicates that a particular student has reasonable attendance, has been making academic progress, and has no unresolved conflicts within the community. A students need not have a perfect record to be in Good Standing. In fact some students in Good Standing have had unsatisfactory records relative to other students, but it has been determined that they have greater obstacles to overcome, and they have demonstrated significant growth. Students must be in Good Standing in order to participate in a number of privileged events such as participating in after school sports team games, attending certain field trips, and presenting at a Roundtable. Whether or not a student is in Good Standing is determined by the Family Group. A rubric has been created to help this determination (see Appendix E). Some Family Groups do this every two weeks, others every month. Each month, a Good Standing list is sent home in the Parent Newsletter.


Using project work from the three curricular areas, students develop portfolios in each of the Domains. These portfolios should contain work that demonstrates both growth over time and their best work. Students work with their Family Group teacher to select appropriate material. Once assembled, the student writes a Cover Letter articulating what was learned and how the work demonstrates Mastery of Domain. Both the portfolio and the Cover Letter are presented for evaluation at a Portfolio Roundtable. The process of moving from completed project work to a Roundtable is quite involved. To facilitate the process, a checklist has been developed called "Steps to Roundtable" (see Appendix F).

Portfolio Roundtables

The Portfolio Roundtable is an assemblage of student peers, family members, teachers and outside guests, Together, they evaluate the student's work and Mastery of the Domain using Warm and Cool Feedback sheets (see Appendix H) and a Roundtable Rubric (see Appendix G).


Since 1994 UHS has required that, to be promoted or graduated, students must demonstrate Mastery of broad areas called Domains (See Appendix C for greater detail.). Although the number and names have changed, the Domains basically remain the same. Currently we have five Domains: Communicating, Crafting, and Reflecting, Recognizing Patterns and Making Connections, Thinking Critically and Ethical Decision Making, Taking Responsibility for Myself and My Community, Working Together and Resolving Conflicts


University Heights does not use traditional grades. However, Progressing, Mastery, and Distinguished (PMD) are used to summarize decisions made a Roundtables. Additionally, many teachers use PMD on specific assignments and Progress Report Cards. Although students continue to view Progressing as failure, P is significantly different from failure because P indicates that there is work, but it needs improvement or supplementation. A P can be upgraded into M if the specific recommendations are met. Therefore it is important that teachers provide students with recommendations and an explanation of how to fulfill them.

With regards to assignments and Progress Report Cards, there are instances when a student has not done enough work to make a proper assessment. In these cases, a teacher would give and Incomplete. Students should not be put in a position where they might receive an Incomplete in a Roundtable. If the "Steps to Roundtable" (see Appendix F) are followed, this can be avoided.


University Heights has a waiver from all RCTs except Reading, Writing, and Math. New ROk State is in the process of phasing in Regents examinations. The class entering 9th grade in 1996 must pass the English Regents; the class entering 9th grade in 1997 must pass the English and the Math Regents; and so on. We are part of the New York Performace Based Assessment Task Consortium which is a group working to demonstrate to the state that our assessment system meets or exceeds the Regents standards. In addition, UHS is working to pilot new exams in English and Math. Furthermore, the state has indicated that local portfolio systems such as ours will continue to be a part of the assessment system.

Progress Report Cards

Progress Report Cards are sent to parents at the end of each cycle. A copy is kept in each student's transcript folder and another is handed to the student.

Transcript Folders

Family Group teachers must familiarize themselves with the information in their students' transcript folders. Transcripts include the following: Progress Report Cards, Roundtable Record Sheets, an official University Heights School transcript, transcripts from previous schools, write-ups of significant conversations with parents or guardians, contracts, write-ups of significant inappropriate behavior, and admissions information. Transcripts should not include Warm/Cool feedback sheets, Cover Letters, or project work. These items should be kept in students' Portfolios. Transcripts should be updated regularly, especially following Roundtables and significant discussions with the family.

Transcript folders are kept in room #110. Transcripts often contain highly personal information which deserves our respect for confidentiality.

Referring Students for Tutoring, Testing, or Counseling

Questions about any of the above-mentioned areas should be discussed with the Director and/or Guidance Staff before any recommendations are made to families.


The Family Group forms the center of school life for University Heights students. A Family Group consists of between 20 and 22 students and a teacher. Family Group is a major component of the school's effort to develop the social and emotional learning of students. It meets for an hour each day to discuss community issues that have been raised in H-Files, to learn Conflict Resolution skills, and to examine relationships and human sexuality. Family Group teachers play a significant role in the lives of their students. They manage the portfolios of their students, facilitate their Roundtables, and are the point person for contact between the school and the family. A family Gorup remains as a unit for the school year, and in many cases the majority of a Family Group will remain with the same teacher for the following year. In this way, a teacher can develop a rich understanding of the strengths and needs of their students.

Two or three Family Groups are joined together to form a Seminar which uses the rest of the school day to address the three curricular areas: Humanities,- Math, Science & Technology-, and Service & Health. The Seminar remains a unit for the school year. This limits the number of students a particular teacher needs to work with to 60 thereby improving the chances of developing strong, positive working relationships and facilitating the learning process.

It is our experience that this structure builds a close-knit community thereby allowing members great latitude for individual expression, at the same time they are expected to be responsible and constructive members of this community. Still, in learning how to balance their freedom with their responsibility, students sometimes fall short of behavioral expectations. At such times, students deserve our best efforts to clarify and enforce necessary boundaries. Though they seldom admit it, students find great reassurance in adult willingness to stand firm behind reasonable expectations.

Many Family Groups and Seminars establish classroom norms in the beginning of year. This process helps students to take responsibility for the tone and atmosphere of the class. In general, food and drink should be discouraged in the classroom. Not only is it distracting, it contributes to our pest problem. Beepers should be on vibrator. Personal stereos and radios should be put away.

Most problems with students can be addressed directly with the student, sometimes in conversation alone, sometimes by exclusion from whatever provoked the misbehavior. When necessary, the student's Family Group teacher should be informed, and in more serious cases, the Director alerted. If you efforts to address the problem are unsatisfactory, bring the issue to the Fairness Committee. This committee is comprised of student representatives from each Family Group and a faculty facilitator. The Fairness Committee will hear the different perspectives of the parties involved and try to determine what would be fair. The emphasis is on helping people learn and grow from their mistakes rather than punishment. Parents and guardians will be involved when appropriate, usually at the Family Group teacher's discretion.

Some problems are more serious and should not be handled alone but from the start should involve the parents or guardians, the Director, Guidance staff, and the Assistant Principal. Such problems include violence and threats of violence, possession of a weapon, theft, vandalism, extortion, and involvement with drugs and alcohol. Because of the strong relationships that develop, some students will want to confide in the teacher. Since the law requires teachers to report knowledge or suspicion of physical and sexual abuse, teachers should not promise to keep a secret. Advise the student of your obligations, that some problems are too big for you to handle and you may have to seek help from other professionals. The state has specific guidelines for how to handle abuse situations. Other situations might include admission of pregnancy or drug addiction. Here too you should consult the Guidance Staff.

Sharing your concerns with peers alleviates some of the stress caused by management difficulties, while it offers an opportunity to explore new solutions. Discussions of individual students or of specific misbehavior can be enlightening and encouraging. Let your Director or meeting facilitator know if you would like to include such a discussion on the agenda for any given meeting.

The Guidance Team has developed specific guidelines for dealing with various types of academic and behavioral problems.

Conflict Resolution

This is required for disputes between any members of the UHSS community. Conflict Resolution is facilitated by trained students and staff . Upset and angry people can be brought down to the Guidance Area to cool down. A Guidance Team member can schedule a time to resolve the conflict and determine who will facilitate the meeting. The parties in conflict must be willing and ready to negotiate, or attend a mediation session within a reasonable period of time. Conflict Resolution is viewed as a positive move. It is encouraged and no records are kept. However reflections can be used by individuals as evidence in their portfolios.

Family Group Conference

This is required for first violations of school rules and norms, excessive absence, and poor academic performance. The Family Group Conference is facilitated by the Family Group teacher. Attending the meeting is the student, the other Family Group members, and a Guidance Team member if requested. This conference should result in a Family Group Contract signed by the student and the Family Group teacher. The parent or guardian should be informed.


Fairness is required for violations of the school's academic and behavioral norms, or refusal to attend a Conflict Resolution. Fairness is facilitated by student representatives from each Family Group and a supervising faculty member. Decisions are reached by consensus. Contracts are kept by Fairness which is responsible for monitoring the follow-through of the contract's particulars.

Crisis Intervention

This is required for physical fights, refusal to attend Fairness, repeated or multiple violations of school norms, bringing a weapon to school, suspected substance abuse during school hours, suspected criminal behavior, and vandalism on campus. This meeting should include the student, the parent or guardian, the Family Group teacher, witnesses, and a Guidance Team member who will facilitate the meeting. Records of anecdotal reports and any contracts should be brought to the meeting. Depending upon what happened, a contract may be drawn, or the student may be suspended or discharged from UHSS. Copies of the minutes are kept by the Guidance Team and the Family Group teacher.


BCC requires that all students, faculty, and staff have validated BCC identification cards and wear them visibly. BCC Security issues these during specific hours; contact Queenie Wilson for the times. At the beginning of each semester, UHS arranges with Security to process large groups. Everybody's first ID is free. Anyone needing a replacement will be charged $5. Also at the beginning of each semester, Queenie Wilson will have validation stickers for the new semester.


Students are expected to come fully prepared to learn and participate in school. This means bringing homework, pens, pencils, and other necessary school paraphernalia. It also means wearing appropriate attire and behaving in a civil manner

Student Attendance

Daily attendance data is extremely important to both UHSS and BOE. Each Family Group teacher has a weekly bubble sheet to indicate the absence or lateness of their Family Group students. This should be brought to Betty Spencer, attendance coordinator, in room #105 before 9:30 am. Students arriving after 9:30 should check in at the Front Office. The following morning, a list of absentees will be published in H-Files, and any corrections can be made then.

Attendance Journals

Each Family Group teacher will also be issued an Attendance Journal in which they should record the date and nature of phone conversations and significant meetings with parents or guardians. Whenever a student is absent, a call should be made. The journals are reviewed by Betty Spencer every week; hand them in Mondays at Morning Meeting. It has been our experience that regular and frequent contact increases the students' attendance and improves their chances of success. It is good to start this communication early and to share both compliments and concerns.

For the BOE, both the bubble sheets and the attendance journal are legal documents. A couple of times each year, we have been called to produce them for a specific student. Having complete records helps solve problems, Furthermore, attendance data is published in the school's Report Card and is used to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of our school.

The names of students with poor attendance or who have been absent for ten consecutive days should be brought to the attention of your Director, the attendance coordinator, and the Guidance Staff assigned to your floor.

For your own records and for writing Progress Report Cards, it is advisable to keep track of attendance for each of your classes. Record books are available for this.

Students Leaving the Building

Middle School students may not leave the building unsupervised. High School students may leave at appropriate times such as the 10:00 to 10:15 break and during lunch time.

After School

Each year a number of after school programs are offered. These are at no cost to the students. In the past, we have offered photography, computer training, SAT preparation, tutoring, and competitive and intramural sports- This year's offerings will be announced in H-Files.


Often students stay after school hours even though they are not a part of an organized After School Program, Such a level of comfort and ownership is encouraging. However, there must be at least minimal supervision. If you are leaving for the day and no one is willing to supervise, please close the windows, turn off the lights, shut down the computers, ask students to leave, and lock the doors. If you are the last staff member on the floor, check to see that the floor is cleared of students and that all the doors are locked.

Transportation Posses

Students receive transportation passes based upon their home address. These are issued each semester. Janitzia O'Neil coordinates the process. She receives the passes and distributes them to Family Group teachers who then distribute them to students. The Family Group teacher must keep a record of the transportation pass number and the signature or each student. If you do not follow this procedure, the student will not get a replacement if the card is lost. To assure that students are getting the right passes, this list should be returned to Janitzia once all students have their passes.

Food Service and Supervision

The school provides breakfast from 8:30 to 9:00. For the Middle School, lunch is served from 12:00 to 12:45; for the High School it is from 12:15 to 1:00. These meals are free for students whose Families have low income. To determine who is eligible, lunch forms are sent home at the beginning of every year. These are collected by Family Group teachers. Every so often we are audited. These forms have additional significance. Because the population we serve is largely low income, our school is allowed to hire additional faculty, but we can only do this if we have adequate lunch form documentation.

Some students bring their own lunches. High School students have the option of going to the BCC cafeteria or off campus to buy and eat their lunch. However if a student is chronically late after lunch, that student should be discouraged from leaving campus.

Lunch is supervised by college and student aides.

Students should not eat lunch in the classrooms, hallways, or stairways. They should eat lunch in the cafeteria.

Student Birthdays

Often Family Groups celebrate birthdays in school with a simple party. Sometimes the student will bring in cake and drinks; other times, the Family Group teacher provides the food. In general, this happens during Family Group time.

Purchases and Sales Between Students and Teachers

Teachers and students should not be exchanging goods, services, or currency in school, including for charitable purposes.

Hallway Conduct

Students are allowed to travel from classrooms to bathrooms or to offices without special passes or teacher supervision. No teacher is assigned Hall Duty, yet all teachers should encourage responsible behavior. Discourage loitering, running or yelling in the halls, and disruption of other classes.


School must be evacuated in an orderly and safe manner every time the alarm system is activated. The BOE requires a specific number of drills each semester. These are timed and involve BCC Security. Teachers should clear their rooms of students, escort them outside, and remain with them. Each floor has a fire captain to oversee the evacuation. Janitzia O'Neil is the Fire and Safety Coordinator. In addition, you should know the location of the closest fire extinguisher and the fire alarm box on your floor.


Faculty and staff often arrange field trips in connection with the curriculum or as a team building activity for the Family Group or the Seminar. Notify your Director about any field trips you would like to schedule. There is some money available for field trips. You will also need to get approval two weeks in advance from the Superintendent of Alternative Schools. Betty Spencer has the appropriate forms. If possible, provide ample notice about trips in H-Files so that others who may be affected ran make any necessary arrangements.

Permission Slips

Permission Slips must be obtained in advance for each student for each trip. Students may not go if they don't have parental permission. However if the student is over 18 years old or an emancipated minor, such a student may give themselves consent. A copy of these Permission Slips and a list of students attending the trip must be left with Front Office before departure.

Permission Slips also contain information about whether lunch will be provided, whether students -will need money, and whether students may have the option of going directly home from the site. If the parents and students opt to have the school provide a box lunch, you will need to give our cafeteria staff ample notice of the number of lunches needed and the date.


For each trip, one staff member must be designated as the individual with overall responsibility for the trip. There must be a minimum of one adult, either staff or parent, for every 20 students. Students must be supervised at all times. If a student does not respond to adult requests either in transit or at the site, notify UHSS, and parents immediately. If a student is missing and cannot be accounted for, notify the site authorities, UHSS, and the parents immediately. A staff member should remain at the site until the student is located


The BOE provides free Rapid Transit passes for groups. These can be obtained from Betty Spencer. Also, this year the BOE is making yellow school buses available. These require an advance request of two weeks. See Irma Gonzales about buses.


In the event of an emergency, faculty and staff should call the Front Office at 5300, Someone in the Front Office will make the necessary calls to emergency personnel. If the student is ambulatory, then a staff member should escort the student to the Office. Otherwise, the Front Office will arrange to have someone from the Guidance Team sent to you.

First Aid

Faculty and staff members with appropriate training may administer first aid to students. Faculty and staff are encouraged to acquire such training. Each Director has a minimal First Aid kit including latex gloves.

Accident Reports

If an accident occurs while you are supervising, or you witness an accident, you must fill out an accident report as soon as possible. Forms are available in the Front Off ice.

Emergency Contact Forms

Emergency Contact Forms will be filed in the Office. Make sure that all of your Family Group students have filled them out properly. Call parents or guardians as soon as possible.

Family Group teachers should be familiar with pertinent health issues such as allergies regarding their students. It may also be advisable to alert other faculty who come in contact with these students.

Abuse and Neglect

Teachers who suspect that a student may suffer from abuse or neglect must contact the proper authorities, Procedures are described in a separate publication.


It has been our experience that regular and frequent contact with parents and guardians increases student attendance and improves their chances of success. Most of this work is done by the Family Group teacher who is the point person for communication between families and school. It is good to start this communication early and to share compliments as well as concerns. The minimum should include a face-to-face meeting each semester, a Progress Report Card at the end of each cycle, and phone conversations twice a month.

Family Orientation

In addition to the orientation during Intake, the Parents Association sponsors several workshops during the year for parents and family members who wish to better understand how University Heights operates.

Open School

Once each semester, the BOE schedules an evening and an afternoon for Open School, a time when parents and families are welcome to visit and meet with teachers. University Heights uses these times to schedule family conferences. Students are expected to attend their conferences, which should center around them and their work.

Scheduling Additional Conferences

Additional parent or family conferences may be scheduled at the discretion of the parent, teacher, or student at any time during the school year. When scheduling conferences, teachers should avoid times than interfere with the class schedule. While a particular student may have pressing issues, the other students for whom you are responsible deserve your attention.

Conference Write-Ups

Conferences and other important in-person and telephone communications with parents should be recorded in writing. A note should be made in the Attendance Journal including the time and nature of the discussion; a more extensive write-up should be given to your Director so that she or he can be apprised of pertinent information, and then filed in the transcript.


Student transcripts folders are confidential, but any parent or guardian has a right to see them. Transcript folders should not be left out on tables or desks, but rather should be locked away. Often families share very personal issues with us. In return, they deserve our respect of confidentiality. For this reason, refrain from discussing students by name in public places or with friends outside of school.

Correspondence With Families

In addition to Progress Report Cards and the Parents Association Newsletter, some Family Group teachers and Seminars write regular letters to families describing classroom curriculum, expectations, activities, and events. It is always advisable to type these letters and have another person proofread them. Your Director should get a copy before being mailed if possible.


Following the Nine Common Principals of CES (see Appendix A), University Heights requires that students demonstrate their accomplishments and knowledge in a public forum which we call an Exhibition. These are generally arranged by the Seminar. Parents or guardians, other family members, and outside guests are invited to attend, participate, and provide "Warm and Cool Feedback" (see Appendix G). In general, Exhibitions occur at the end of each cycle, but sometimes more frequently.

Portfolio Roundtables

The Portfolio Roundtable -- more often referred to as "Roundtable" -- is an intensified, individualized Exhibition. This is the center piece of our assessment system. Each student has approximately an hour to present work and to describe how this work demonstrates Mastery of a particular Domain. The group assessing the evidence includes student peers, the Family Group teacher, outside guests, and a member of the presenting student's family. Students are expected to present at a Roundtable at least once a semester. If the happens and if a family member attends, this can take the place of a family conference. If a student does not present at a Roundtable for two consecutive semesters, the student is not making adequate progress. A Family Conference should be scheduled with Guidance Staff and the Family Group teacher to consider alternative academic settings.

Phone Calls

At University Heights, teachers make a concerted effort to maintain frequent contact with parents and guardians, and the most efficient medium is the telephone. Family Group teachers should call home at least twice a month for discussions about the student' progress. Also, any day a student is late or absent, the Family Group teacher should call home by the end of the day. Document all phone call attempts, successful or not, in the Attendance Journal.


Student Reading Policy

All students are required to engage is some type of reading activity for one half hour each night.

Student Television Policy

Students should be discouraged from simply "watching" television and should be helped to choose particular programs instead.


Homework is assigned regularly.

Bringing Items or Money from Home to School

Students often bring personal stereos, balls, candy, and money to school. Students do not have personal lockers so they bring these at their own risk. Although we work hard to generate an atmosphere of honesty, students should not leave things around that might tempt others.

Whatever is brought to school should not become a disruption to class or the learning environment. Discuss with your colleagues any policies you may want to implement, and incorporate them into your Seminar's discussion about classroom norms.


Most students who come to University Heights go through a process known as Intake. In general, this occurs before a new semester begins. Based upon anticipated needs, students are selected from a pool of applicants. These students and their parents or guardians join us for a day of Intake. While the parents get a brief introduction and fill out requisite forms, the students spend the day in simulated classes with teachers and Intake Buddies who are trained University Heights students. This provides the Intake students with a sense of UHSS and whether or not they would do well here, and it provides us with some data about how well the Intake students would do in our system. If time and staffing constraints permit, we conduct interviews with the student and parent or guardian together. At the end of the day, the Intake Buddies and the teachers decide which students to accept.

University Heights Middle School & High School

Staff members are expected to: