Student Handbook

Student Handbook


You will meet in an advisory group of approximately 12 students with a teacher several times a week to focus on the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development of young adolescents.

The purpose of advisory is to provide each student with:

  • An adult advocate who will know his/her advisee as a person and as a student in order to foster positive self esteem and social and academic success in school.
  • An opportunity to reflect on and practice our Habits of Heart and Mind, to learn about the Arizona State Health Curriculum and to prepare for student-led conferences and their graduation portfolio.

Advisories also provide each parent with a teacher who will serve as a link between the school and the student’s home with up-to-date information and help on personal and academic growth and progress.

After School Activities/Clubs

Every year PFFS has an after school program with options developed with the input of the students. In the past we have offered: break dancing, Chess Club, Kindness Club, D&D club, choir, and the Green Club. Additionally, we provide a safe and quiet place for students to be able to do homework and get academic assistance in our Homework Help time (3:45-5:00). Some of our afterschool activities are fee based with scholarships for those with financial needs. Fees or scholarships applications must be filled out at the beginning of each semester. Only students who have signed up for the afterschool program may stay afterschool unless special permission is given.


Consistent daily attendance is essential for your success as a student.   Please try to schedule vacations and appointments afterschool or during previously schedule school vacation times. If it is necessary for you to be absent from school, please have your parent call the office at 624-7552.   It is your responsibility to get any work you missed from your teachers when you return. Excessive absences can result in withdrawal from the school.   The school’s office hours are 7:45 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Students should not arrive at school before 7:45 A.M. unless special arrangements have been made. From 7:45-8:15 we open the school for “light supervision” (adults will be here but they will be busy preparing for the school day). Students who fail to conduct themselves properly in the morning will lose the privilege of arriving before 8:15. Once a student enters the school they will not be permitted to leave the premises until the end of the school day.   School begins promptly at 8:30. Please make all efforts to arrive on time for Morning Meeting. This is valuable community and learning time and students who miss it or come late interfere with its effectiveness.

Early Dismissal/Pick-Up – A student being dismissed early must be signed out at the office by the parent/guardian who is picking them up. No child will be dismissed early from school until a parent, guardian or authorized person reports to the office first.

Change of Address

Please inform the office if you change your address and/or telephone number. This is extremely important in the case of an emergency.


We believe the best way to discipline is to set up expectations and a culture of respect up front so that discipline matters will be less likely to present themselves. We commit to continue to work on limit the number of referrals that occur. However, when students do violate the norms and/or rules of the school they will receive consequences commensurate with the severity/frequency of the offense. Attached with this student handbook is our discipline matrix that describes a spectrum of misconduct. Note: some misconduct might be referred to our Restorative Justice System, run by trained student facilitators.


PFFS is an equal opportunity employer and educational institution. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, age, religion/religious beliefs, gender, creed, citizenship status, marital status, political beliefs/affiliation, home language, disability, family, social or cultural background in admission to or treatment of its educational programs or activities.

Dress Code

PFFS recognizes that students may desire to express their own sense of personal style through their attire and grooming, however, personal choices of students and their parents can affect the educational program of the school or the health and safety of others. This can occur where a student’s attire or grooming distracts other students from their learning or interferes with staff duties. Students’ dress may also operate to threaten or intimidate others. With this in mind, the following dress is prohibited:

  • Presents a hazard to the health or safety of the student or to others in the school
  • Materially interferes with school work, create disorder, or disrupt the educational program
  • Distracts students from achieving their educational objectives
  • Represents membership in a gang.
  • Obscene language or symbols, or symbols of sex, drugs, or alcohol on clothing are expressly prohibited.

Proper footwear may be required for P.E. and Expeditions.

Family/School Partnerships

We strive to work collaboratively with families to help our students have the best middle school experience possible. Parent and community involvement are key ingredients for the success of our schools. First and foremost we expect that all parents/guardians support their child’s academic growth. To that end we require that parents/guardians attend their child’s student-led conferences twice a year and that 8th grade parents/guardians participate in the Portfolio Presentation.

Volunteering will provide an opportunity for families and community members to work with children and to learn more about our schools.   It is particularly helpful to us if you can help out with driving on our Expeditions. Please let us know if you are available to help. Other forms of volunteering, in small or large amounts is also greatly appreciated and will make a difference.

Food & Water

We encourage students to bring a water bottle to school. PFFS-D contracts with a vendor to provide a hot lunch service. Money will be collected on a daily basis or checks can be written to establish a credit line for your student.   For those qualifying, free and reduced lunches are also provided. Students may also bring their own lunch. There will be a refrigerator and microwave available. Food and drinks other than water will not be allowed on all carpeted surfaces.

Gateway Week

The last week of school is our “Gateway Week” in which students are asked to demonstrate what they have learned and what they can do through participation in a series of authentic exhibitions of learning. It is extremely important that students do not miss this week. In addition to it being difficult if not impossible to reschedule time for students to make up the work, students who are not at the school will miss out on a significant amount of learning as an audience to their peers.

Habits of Heart & Mind

Along with academic standards, PFFS students will develop life-long habits of heart and mind – our name for important 21st Century learning skills. Evidence of progress in these habits will be collected, reflected upon and shared in student portfolios. At the end of the year, in addition to honoring academic achievement, awards are given to the students who best exemplify these habits. These are ARECIPE for success!

  • Action: How do I make things happen?
  • Reflection: What have I learned?
  • Evidence: What makes something believable and convincing?
  • Care: How can I be kind and supportive?
  • Inquiry: What do I want to know?
  • Perspective: Whose viewpoints should I consider?
  • Expression: How do I share what I think, know, and feel?


The health of all our community is of vital concern to us. Your support on the following guidelines will help keep a healthy school environment. Parents of children who become ill, or have symptoms of illness at school, will be contacted to pick them up. If parents are not at home, the person designated on the emergency information sheet is called to care for the child until a parent can take over. It is IMPORTANT to notify the school of any changes that need to be made on the emergency information sheet.

Please note that if a child is well enough to be in school, he/she is expected to participate in all classes and recess (unless a written note from a physician is provided). School policy requires that parents notify the school office when their child will be home sick. If a child is absent and we have not been notified we may contact the home/or workplace. When your child returns to school, please send a written note explaining the absence.

Medications -The only medications considered necessary to be taken at school are those prescribed by a physician to be taken on a schedule that cannot be adjusted to outside school hours. When it becomes necessary for a student to take any form of medication at school, a medication permit signed by the parent must be presented to the front office. All medications will be kept in the front office and taken under adult supervision. The medication must be clearly labeled with name of medicine, name of child, dosage, frequency, physician’s name, and in the original container.

Immunizations – Arizona State law requires that all children meet certain immunization requirements for school entry. If a child’s health records are not in compliance with the state law, the office will contact you. A parent may fill out an exemption form, available from the front office.


Homework is given to reinforce material that has been taught in school. It is not used to introduce new material. Assignments are intended to develop good work habits, improve academic progress and help inform parents of the school’s curriculum. We estimate that students should be doing on average of 30 minutes a night. Please feel free to contact your teachers if there are questions or concerns about the homework. This year we are using Google Classroom so you should be able to see students assignments on their login. We also will be requiring students to use their student planners as an additional organizational tool.


In the Fall and Spring before we break for a week, we pause from regular classroom instruction to pursue topics of interest in depth for an extended period of time. Examples of prior Intersession have been: Theater, Law, Cooking, Political Art, Border Studies, Backpacking, Rocky Point ecosystems, etc. For students who struggling to attain the academic learning goals in the core subjects for that particular quarter, Intersession will provide an opportunity for remediation.   The usually is a separate fee associated with Intersessions with financial assistance available.

Morning Meeting

Your day will begin with a community gathering called Morning Meeting. Each morning we will meet for 15 minutes of community time. At times we will use this gathering to make announcements, celebrate achievements, sing, sit in silence and read works of inspiration. Family and friends are always welcome to join us. It will make our time that much more special.


We have a small, but growing library at PFFS that operates on the honor system. If we want to maintain high quality books, it is important that every student commit to treating the books well and returning them when they are finished. In order to increase our collection, we are happy to accept donations of used books and magazines.

Narrative Reports & Student Led Conferences

Narrative Report Cards – In order to give real, specific, personalized information about how your student is progressing, we will issue report cards with Narrative Report Cards instead of the traditional A-F grades. The reports will include information relating to progress on core academic standards as well as their studying/learning behaviors.

Progress Reports are meant as a quick snapshot on how PFFS students are doing in academic content, behavior and homework and are distributed three times a year in the middle of each trimester. Shortly following their distribution is our scheduled Student Led Conferences. In these meetings students will discuss their strengths, stretches and passions in each of their classes, share examples of work and set goals. We view these conferences as being an essential part of the student’s learning process, therefore, it is critical parents attend these meetings. For those parents who are not able to attend the regularly scheduled sessions, every attempt will be made to reschedule the conference at a time that works for the family.

Students will take the state standardized tests as mandated by law.


First, we apologize for the difficult parking situation. There is short term parking slots directly in front of the building. Please remember to put on your hazards if you park there. There is free one hour parking in the parking lot at the corner of Pennington and Scott and metered parking close by. The busiest times for drop off and pick up are at 8:30 a.m. and between 3:30 and 3:40 p.m. If you are coming at that time, please be on the alert for students and be patient and remind your young person to watch for traffic!

Portfolios and Promotion

Students will be required to demonstrate the skills mastered during the middle school years by successfully presenting their Portfolio to a panel of judges, successfully completing their Gateway Week and by showing proficiency in their classes.


The privacy of parents and students is protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.   A copy of these rights are available upon request. Students and parents may have access to their records. A reasonable copy charge may be imposed if copies are requested.


Fire drills will be conducted on a regular basis. These necessary safety precautions are intended to assist students and staff to respond appropriately and safely to emergency situations. Setting off a fire alarm without proper justification is a serious offense, resulting in disciplinary action and possibly requiring financial compensation for any fees imposed to the school. PFFS has a comprehensive crisis plan in place to deal with emergencies. The plan is reviewed periodically in conjunction with local law enforcement and fire and rescue personnel.

Service Learning

Service Learning is an important part of PFFS curriculum and life. It is woven into regular classwork, advisory activities, expeditions and intersessions. Additionally our 8th graders need to complete a service learning project to successfully complete their 8th grade portfolio. Although we like to focus on the content and learning rather than the hours, a guideline to understand the commitment we are talking about is a minimum of 20 hours if a student is simply “plugging into” already established service events/organizations or a minimum of 10 hours if the student is creating his/her own original event/service.

Special Education

Pursuant to law, PFFS will conduct Child Find as part of its special education identification process.   This initial screening must be done within 45 days of entry. Our special education philosophy emphasizes inclusion with our students being included to the extent possible in our regular education classes and provided extra support as needed.


Cell phones during school hours are permitted only with explicit permission by a faculty member. At lunch time and break phones can be used for games or music, but not for texting or calling unless with permission. Unauthorized cell phone will result in the confiscation of phone. Repeated misuse will result in completely banning the phone on school premises. If a parent needs to contact their student, they should call the front office at 352-0057.

Electronic Use Agreement

Acceptable Uses. I understand and agree as follows:

Paulo Freire Freedom School provides students and employees with access to information systems and educational technology resources consisting of: stand-alone computers and peripheral equipment, computer workstations connected to local area networks, server and networked peripheral equipment, a wide area network which includes access to the Internet, video capability. The Paulo Freire Freedom School Information Services System (ISS) may only be used for educational purposes. The term “educational purposes” includes classroom activities, career or professional development, limited high-quality personal research and other work related purposes. I may not use the system for entertainment purposes, commercial purposes or political lobbying. I am expected to follow the rules set forth in the school’s disciplinary code and the law. In addition to this Agreement, my use of the ISS is governed by Governing Board Policy.

The ISS has not been established as a public access service or a public forum. Therefore the school has the right to place reasonable restrictions on the material accessed or posted through the system. I am expected to follow the rules set forth in the School’s policies and the law. I realize that information accessed, created, sent, received or stored on the network is not private. It is subject to review by network system administrators and system administrators may investigate complaints regarding inappropriate or illegal material.

Unacceptable Uses. To prevent against unacceptable use of the AIS System, I understand agree as follows:

1) Personal safety or the safety of others (Applicable to students only)

a) I will not post personal contact information about myself or others (i.e. names, addresses, telephone numbers, school address, etc.) unless I have prior written permission from my teacher and/or parent to do so.

b) I will not meet with someone I meet online without my parent’s approval and involvement.

c) I will promptly tell my teacher or school director if I receive any message that is inappropriate or makes me feel uncomfortable.

2) Illegal Activities

a) I will not attempt to gain unauthorized access to the ISS or any other computer system through the is or go beyond my authorized access. I will not attempt to log in through another person’s account or access their files without their express written permission.

b) I will not attempt to disrupt the ISS or destroy data by spreading viruses or by any other means.

c) I will not use the ISS to engage in any other illegal or inappropriate acts (drug or alcohol purchase, distribution or sale, criminal gang activity, threatening conduct, etc)

3) Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

a) I will not plagiarize works I find on the Internet. Plagiarism is taking the ideas or writing of others and presenting them as if they were mine.

b) I will respect the rights of copyright owners. Copyright infringement would occur if I inappropriately reproduce a work that is protected by a copyright. If a work contains language that specifies appropriate uses of that work, I will follow those requirements. If I am unsure of whether I may use a work, I will request permission from the copyright owner. I will ask a teacher or ISS administrator if I have questions.

4) Language

a) I will not use obscene, lewd, vulgar, rude, inflammatory, threatening or disrespectful language.

b) I will not post information that could cause damage or danger of disruption to the educational environment or operations of the school.

c) I will not engage in personal attacks, including prejudicial or discriminatory attacks on individuals or groups.   I will not harass others. Harassment is persistently acting in a manner that distresses or annoys another person. If I am told by someone to stop sending them messages, I will immediately stop.

d) I will not knowingly or recklessly post false or defamatory information about a person or organization

e) I will not post chain letters or engage in “spamming.”

5) System security

a) I am responsible for my email and/or network account. I will not provide my password to another person or use another person’s password unless I have obtained prior written permission to do so from my teacher (for a student) or an ISS administrator (for an employee).

b) I will not permit another person to use my account or use another person’s account unless I have obtained prior written permission to do so from my teacher (for a student) and an ISS administrator (for an employee)

c) I will immediately notify my teacher or the ISS administrator if I have identified a possible security problem.

d) I will not download software or load software on the network or hard drive of any computer in a manner inconsistent with the school’s software specifications without written authorization from the ISS Administrator to do so.

e) I will follow the virus protection precautions when downloading software that I have been given prior written permission to download, to protect against the inadvertent spread of computer viruses.

f) I will not attempt to harm or destroy data of another user or any other agencies or networks connected to the ISS. This includes, but is not limited to, uploading or creating computer viruses.

g) I will not move, harm, destroy or deface any school owned hardware.

h) I will not attempt to repair or deface any school owned Technology Resources without prior written approval.