School board makes rec­om­men­da­tions re­gard­ing dis­ci­pline

Par­ent shad­ow­ing, ex­tracur­ric­u­lar el­i­gi­bil­ity among sug­ges­tions

Maryland Independent - - News - Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Par­ent shad­ow­ing, sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing and new ap­proaches to dis­ci­plinary is­sues were among the rec­om­men­da­tions mem­bers of the Charles County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion pre­sented at the board’s May 9 meet­ing.

School dis­ci­pline is­sues were by far the lead­ing topic of dis­cus­sion dur­ing a teacher town hall meet­ing held by the board March 6.

At the board’s March 21 meet­ing, Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Chair­man Michael Lukas di­vided the other board mem­bers into two teams of three and asked them to look at the dis­ci­pline ma­trix and make rec­om­men­da­tions for changes.

The first group was com­prised of board vice chair­woman Bar­bara Palko and board mem­bers Jen­nifer Abell and Vic­to­ria Kelly. Palko said at­tacks on teach­ers have in­creased al­most 70 per­cent over three years, and most other in­frac­tions have also gone up.

One of their rec­om­men­da­tions was to re­visit the school sys­tem’s Pos­i­tive Be­hav­ioral In­ter­ven­tions and Sup­ports, or PBIS, which re­wards stu­dents for pos­i­tive be­hav­iors.

“PBIS seems to have evolved into more of an ex­trin­sic re­ward em­pha­sis than on an in­trin­sic value of do­ing the right be­cause it’s the right thing to do,” Palko said. “We should par­tic­u­larly con­sider pro­grams that em­pha­size build­ing re­la­tion­ships and char­ac­ter ed­u­ca­tion.”

Palko said her group also rec­om­mended “par­ent shad­ow­ing,” re­ferred to as re­verse sus­pen­sion at the town hall meet­ing, as an al­ter­na­tive to pun­ish­ments that keep stu­dents out of school in mid­dle and high school.

Kelly said par­ent shad­ow­ing is cur­rently in use in other school dis­tricts in Mary­land and sev­eral other states.

Par­ent shad­ow­ing would, as an al­ter­na­tive to sus­pen­sion, have a par­ent ac­com­pany their stu­dent through the school day.

“We al­ways talk about how we don’t want kids out of school, this is a way to keep them in school,” Kelly said. “At the same time, we want to han­dle these prob­lems and fix them … By the time you’re in mid­dle or es­pe­cially high school, you do not want your par­ent com­ing and stay­ing with you through school. Also, it maybe forces that com­mu­ni­ca­tion at home be­tween the stu­dent and the par­ent that you re­ally need to con­duct your­self ap­pro­pri­ately.”

The school sys­tem’s dis­ci­pline code lists re­sponses to in­frac­tions in five lev­els of in­creas­ing sever­ity. Kelly said her group is rec­om­mend­ing in­creas­ing the sever­ity range for a num­ber of in­frac­tions, in­clud­ing dis­re­spect, bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment, sex­ual at­tack, bomb threat, tobacco, fight­ing and other weapons in­frac­tions.

Kelly’s group also rec­om­mended adding a be­hav­ioral com­po­nent to the ex­tracur­ric­u­lar el­i­gi­bil­ity pol­icy.

“Kids need to learn how to con­duct them­selves ap­pro­pri­ately in schools be­cause when they get out into the real world, they’re go­ing to be held to that stan­dard,” Kelly said. “We feel that be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in an ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity is a priv­i­lege, and you need to be able to con­duct your­self ap­pro­pri­ately in or­der to gain that priv­i­lege.”

The Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions can be found on the school sys­tem’s web­site un­der Board­Docs.

The sec­ond group was com­prised of board mem­bers Virginia McGraw, Mark Craw­ford and Mar­garet Mar­shall. Craw­ford said his group tried to con­sider the pos­si­ble root causes for the break­down in dis­ci­pline.

“One pos­si­ble root cause may be that the dis­ci­pline prob­lems we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing are not the re­sult of a lack of a set of for­mal­ized ex­pec­ta­tions, but a lack of un­der­stand­ing of in­di­vid­u­als and/or the lack of es­tab­lish­ing re­la­tion­ships with stu­dents,” Craw­ford said.

The sec­ond group rec­om­mended re­search­ing al­ter­na­tives to PBIS for the mid­dle and high school pop­u­la­tion, de­vel­op­ing pro­grams that pro­mote “self-aware­ness of pride, hu­mil­ity and re­spect” and im­prov­ing sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing for staff that is on a more per­sonal, hands-on level.

“It all comes back to that fourth ‘R’ — re­la­tion­ships,” Mar­shall said. “It’s the foun­da­tion for how we im­ple­ment the other three.”

“We agree with most of what has been said here,” Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim­berly Hill said af­ter­ward. “We as adults need to know and value our stu­dents be­fore we can teach them any­thing.”

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