Hudson marks progress, wrestles with fight video policy

HUDSON–The Hudson City School District (HCSD) saw a 79% high school graduation rate in the 2016-17 school year, Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier told the November 13 Board of Education meeting.

The meeting also included the announcement that the board needs to recruit a new member following a resignation and a discussion of revising restrictions on student use of cell phones on school property.

Dr. Suttmeier summarized how the district has met several of its goals for 2016-17 and its new goals for the 2017-18 school year. The chart below shows some of the items:









High School class





K-2nd grade

at or above reading expectations




3rd-8th grade

at or above Common Core reading expectations




3rd-8th grade

at or above Common Core math expectations




7th-12th grade

in extracurricular activity, athletics, or community service




all students

adhere to code of conduct (zero discipline referrals)




Board member has David Kisselburgh resigned, citing business and personal time commitments. In his letter announcing his resignation he wrote, “Our School District is in good hands with Dr. Suttmeier, Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino, and Business Administrator Sharifa Carbon.” Mr. Kisselburgh’s letter also praised the board, saying all of its members have the district’s “best interest at heart.”

As a result of this resignation, the district is looking for a new board member. This person will serve on the board until May 2018, when he or she will have the option of running for a longer term.

District residents interested in the position should send a letter to the district by December 18.

Dr. Suttmeier observed that the six remaining board members are all women and that a man would be welcome.

Noah Taylor, student representative to the board, reported that student Brianna Tsitsera was selected to participate in the NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) All State Festival as a singer. The festival will take place November 17 and 18 at Taconic Hills High School.

In addition, Noah reported that the Rotary Club invited students who have been excelling in high school to observe Rotary meetings for a month. For October, the students were Autumn Kudlack and Kyle Ublacker. For November, they are Bryant Barrientos and Jillian Perry.

On another matter the board discussed a section of the Code of Conduct that subjects students “to disciplinary action up to… suspension” for using cell phones “to record or take pictures of any argument, fight or other altercation in the school environment.”

“We shouldn’t be suspending students for videoing fights and arguments,” said board member Sage Carter. “Sometimes it’s the only way to record an injustice.”

Usually recording disturbances “is not done to help. It’s done for entertainment,” noted Dr. Suttmeier.

“We should think about it,” said Ms. Carter. “We’re told to report injustices. Sometimes one has to prove they took place.”

The meeting included a curriculum workshop for the Junior High, which now includes 6th through 8th grades. Associate Principal Alyssa Sabbatino spoke about Restorative Justice Practices training sessions she is holding for teachers.

Sixth grade writing teacher Anna Oleson-Wheeler had Olivia Hoffnagle and Victoria Steils, two of her students, read samples of their writing and spoke about Calm Classroom moments. A Calm Classroom moment consists of turning off the lights and playing U-tube directions for relaxation and deep breathing for three to four minutes. Ms. Wheeler said that several teachers do this with their students, that she does so every day at the beginning of the class right after lunch, and that it calms down students remarkably.

Also at the meeting:

• Dr. Suttmeier reminded the public that the new driveway for students, parents and staff to the high school campus will open November 20

• Ms. Prestipino reported that she and three other district officials had attended Implicit Bias training in Albany and found “it plays very well with what Ms. Sabbatino is working on.”

Dr. Suttmeier said that some people who move out of the District want their children to stay in it and are willing to pay tuition for them to do so. “That’s quite a compliment.”

The next meeting of the HCSD Board of Education will take place Monday, November 27, at the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School. It will start with a curriculum workshop at 6:00 pm, followed by the regular meeting.

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