I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
What Should the Appropriate Sanction be for Violent Students?
Some might think that multiple, nearly limitless "chances" are warranted and quite appropriate for students who engage in systematic patterns of bullying, harassment, and abusive conduct on our campuses and buses. Some might say "don't give up on kids" or "they might drop out or fail" if we punish students too harshly
I believe otherwise.
I believe after a certain point, as with Mr. 61 or with Mr. Big "A", great care must be taken to administer significant and meaningful discipline, combined with diligence and attention utilized when placing such students back into classes and on to buses with their former victims after discipline has been given.
I don't believe we have an "epidemic" of violent behavior on our campuses, but I do believe we have a significant issue and that our current methods are not appropriately stemming the tide of these dysfunctional behaviors that are bleeding onto our properties and into our classrooms from dysfunctional communities and households.
These dysfunctional behaviors, in turn, are leading to stagnant enrollments in all of our schools generally and acute levels of teacher turnover (churn) at several of our schools individually.
So for Big "A" I believe he should have received a 2-year ban from riding our buses, as well as an expulsion for the rest of this year and all of next year--being only allowed back after successful
completion of 8th and 9th grade at an alternative setting like Camelot. Upon his return from that, someone like Big "A" should also have been required to complete an anger management program and his behavior upon re-entry should have been mandated to be CLOSELY monitored. That is what I would have supported.
For Mr. 61--he should be expelled without services, with the exception of the ability to take classes virtually. He won't be though, and when he returns to his high school because of our appeasement approach, I hope he does not seriously injure one of our students or staff; we'll lose that lawsuit.
I simply think we must have the moral courage to enforce strict discipline for the benefit of all our students, parents, teachers, district staff, and for the good of the system as a whole.
Allowing a few disruptive, violent, and aggressive students to infect dozens of schools has not served our constituents well. We are not doing all we can, and we must do more.
It is for these reasons that I wrote the viewpoint I did, and brought the district discipline intervention matrix overlay I developed to the last workshop. It is graphically displayed below.
Although it was not well received by my fellow board members, and the superintendent told me he did not feel it was a solution he would favor, I'm not giving up on the concept.
Intense focus and forced parental engagement works--look at our 1st grade reading initiative that has FORCED parents to engage. Lets do this again as it relates to discipline and rules enforcement. Why would we NOT do this?!?
Getting "shot-down" is not unfamiliar territory for me.
I received a similar negative reaction from a different set of peers from 2007-2010 as I pushed and pushed to do more on the problems of drugs in schools. I never gave up and continuously spotlighted the problem and brought potential solutions. I had the door slammed in my face a lot by my counterparts and others in the district on the drugs in school issue. It didn't change the fact that we still had a problem.
In 2010 we had a breakthrough, though, and we began doing more; drug dogs, drug testing, counseling, etc. etc. We did more and I believe now we are doing all we can do on this issue. And students benefit when we do all we can do on a problematic issue.
I talked often and loudly about how we needed to have videos on the website of all our meetings and especially our workshops--which met with great resistance for a year until we did it--- and now it is a smashing success.
I talked about the tremendous need to fund a district run health clinic, and after a few speed bumps and two years we're doing this and saving literally millions of dollars and providing a valuable service to our employees (and the taxpayers who fund our health insurance plan).
I talked often and loudly (and continue to) about our desperate need of a better gate between 8th and 9th grade to increase our substandard HS graduation rate. Slowly, we are moving in the right direction on this. Instead of blatant social promotion in many instances-with the low hurdle being straight 1s on the FCAT and 60 or better on all courses to move to HS, now there is at least a GPA requirement being mandated for matriculation between MS and HS. (This is a start but I firmly believe an objective, norm-referenced standardized test score at a certain, district established threshold is also needed, to counter the "grade-inflation" which will now inevitably take place, enabling us to still socially promote some over-age middle school students up to HS, even some that are not ready.)
So I'll still be advocating to improve this process even more. but i digress...
Like I did then (2007-2010) and like I've done on a host of other red-hot issues listed above--I will continue to spotlight this issue of violence and misbehavior unchecked in schools. Violence/school climate and safety, this issue will be priority #1 for as long as I remain on this board-- because as I've often stated---I believe we can manage discipline better, more proactively throughout our district going forward for the betterment of our entire system.
Those who wish to quickly disregard my idea on this should take a minute to look at the smashing success of my previous proposals mentioned above. I don't typically come out of the gate with an idea that is a lemon. This might sound cocky, but I've found that in life in general and in this school district in particular, if one does not blow his own horn it will eventually be used as a spittoon--- or urinal--or both.