Prob­lem be­hav­iors in pub­lic schools ad­dressed

Ad­just­ments to Code of Stu­dent Con­duct, new pro­grams planned

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

Charles County Pub­lic Schools is look­ing to re­vise its re­sponse matrix and add new pro­grams fol­low­ing teacher com­plaints re­gard­ing lack of dis­ci­plinary con­trols and un­ruly stu­dent be­hav­ior.

The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion held a town hall meet­ing with ed­u­ca­tors on March 6, dur­ing which the main con­cern by far from teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors was dis­ci­plinary is­sues and dis­rup­tions.

The school board made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions to staff at its May 9 meet­ing, and many of those rec­om­men­da­tions came back as new ini­tia­tives Tues­day dur­ing a staff pre­sen­ta­tion as part of its “Ini­tia­tives to Sup­port Pos­i­tive Learning En­vi­ron­ments.”

“The rec­om­men­da­tions that our board mem­bers have made have helped to fuel a lot of this work,” said Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent Amy Holl­stein. “These are new ini­tia­tives that we’d like to put in place for the ’17-’18 school year.”

In par­tic­u­lar, the school sys­tem will pi­lot a par­ent shad­ow­ing pro­gram at six schools: C. Paul Barn­hart and Berry el­e­men­tary schools, Mil­ton Somers and Ben­jamin Stod­dert mid­dle schools and Henry E. Lackey

and St. Charles high schools.

The pro­gram would be an al­ter­na­tive to out-of-school sus­pen­sions for stu­dents who ex­hibit non­vi­o­lent, non-ver­bally abu­sive be­hav­ior. Par­ents would ac­com­pany their child through­out the school day.

“This is an al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional sus­pen­sion, but also it’s a way to strengthen home-to-school con­nec­tions,” Holl­stein said.

The re­vised changes to the re­sponse matrix in­clude rais­ing the re­sponse level on some of­fenses. The school sys­tem uses a five-tiered sys­tem of re­sponses to in­frac­tions in its Code of Stu­dent Con­duct, rang­ing from Level 1 re­sponses such as ver­bal

cor­rec­tions, con­tact­ing par­ents and chang­ing seat as­sign­ments, to Level 5 re­sponses, which in­clude long term sus­pen­sions and ex­pul­sions.

The re­vi­sions change ha­rass­ment, bul­ly­ing and sex­ual ha­rass­ment from a min­i­mum Level 1 to a Level 2 re­sponse, to­bacco use in­creases to a min­i­mum Level 4 re­sponse and in­creases the re­sponse for dis­re­spect from a max­i­mum Level 3 re­sponse to a max­i­mum Level 5 re­sponse by cod­ing re­peated acts of dis­re­spect as a dis­rup­tion.

“The work­group from the state was very adamant that stu­dents not be sus­pended out of school for dis­re­spect,”

said Pa­tri­cia Vaira, di­rec­tor of stu­dent ser­vices. “How­ever, if these be­hav­iors rise to a level that they’re caus­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dis­rup­tion, then we’ll be putting text in the Code of Con­duct ... to in­struct ad­min­is­tra­tors that would be the ap­pro­pri­ate code to use.”

The school sys­tem also plans to pi­lot a new pro­gram, As­pire, at J.P. Ryon and J.C. Parks el­e­men­tary schools. The pro­gram would iden­tify stu­dents who demon­strate “ex­treme be­hav­iors” and pro­vide in­ten­sive coun­sel­ing and cop­ing strate­gies in a ther­a­peu­tic learning en­vi­ron­ment be­fore stu­dents are re­turned to the

reg­u­lar class­room. It would also cre­ate a team of psy­chol­o­gists and be­hav­ior spe­cial­ists who will ob­serve class­rooms and make rec­om­men­da­tions to teach­ers re­gard­ing be­hav­ior man­age­ment strate­gies, as well as pro­vide sys­tem-wide pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment.

“The goal of As­pire is to pro­vide ther­a­peu­tic sup­ports and in­ter­ven­tions for stu­dents who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing se­vere be­hav­ioral chal­lenges,” Holl­stein said. “We need to pro­vide them with strate­gies for how to deal with frus­trat­ing times in

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