Sunday, March 24, 2013

Precursor to Seattle Schools DOE Investigation

From Ed Week comes this story of a district in Mississippi and the measures they must take for their disciplinary measures for all students. This may end up being what Seattle Schools is told they must do.

Among other things outlined in a consent decree signed Thursday between the district and the DOJ:
  • The district cannot use suspension, alternative school settings, or expulsion for minor misbehavior and has to limit these types of consequences all together.

  • School administrators cannot ask school law enforcement officers to respond in cases where administrators can use the school code of conduct to address behavior problems.

  • School police must be trained in bias-free policing, child and adolescent development and age-appropriate responses, mentoring, and working with school administrators.

  • The district's alternative school has to establish clear entry and exit rules and speed up students' transition back to their regular school.

  • All district schools must adopt Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, an approach that involves teaching students about expected and appropriate behavior.

  • The district must monitor discipline data to identify and respond to racial disparities.


Anonymous said...

is telling a teacher to "f" themselves considered minor, after the teacher has asked the student to not interrupt an explanation of a complicated concept with texting / side conversations / singing ??

I suppose all the people who teach 25 classes a week of 25+ teens know all the solutions to having 2 to 7 kids like this in your class, and of course the solution is not kicking 'em out so that the other 28 or so can learn!!!

(pst! for some students, new seats & polite requests don't work, but, of course you know it alls know that is because the teacher needs more training in ... Actually Actualizing Actual Reality...?)


Jet City mom said...

Perhaps the union should demand lower class sizes with the next contract.

Wasn't I-728 supposed to deal with that?

Perhaps money should be dedicated to lowering class size, and not be allowed to be used for teacher training, & buildings classrooms, but just for hiring more staff.

Anonymous said...

A point of interest is that at some points students violations would be under-reported. At points administration would not document but instead 'counsel' the student on the more violent or unsafe act. Then the student will have a lesser act documented on the referral form. The student will be sent on suspension that reflects the gravity of the 'counseled' act but that will be disproportionate for the infraction actually documented.

For example: A student threatens a someone or racially or sexually harasses another student. Those acts would require a suspension and potentially more legal consequences. However, in order to avoid 'excessive' punishment or suspension the thinking is to softball the punishment in the hope that the student will change. If you compare the same forms and consequences for the stated infractions it will be disproportionate.

However, the subversion of the system is when the honest application of the rules is not adhered to in favor of socio-political considerations.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Basically, McClearly IS telling the Legislature to fully fund I-728 (which never really happened).

Anonymous said...

Currently, SPS basically has a policy of suspension for those it does not wish to educate. So be it. But, it should not get to send kids home and wreak havoc on the ability of families to earn a living because they do not wish to eduate. It should have to something else with the students. It is way to easy to just send kids home. Sending kids home is unsafe and ineffective. As the article notes - it is simply a pathway to prison, and one that bankrupts families. There should be no financial incentive to fail to educate students.


Mary Griffin said...

The consent decree that was agreed to in the Mississippi case specifies the adoption of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. This is an evidenced-based set of interventions that are effective in decreasing disciplinary actions and instead clearly 
, provide procedures for teaching and practicing and encouraging desired behaviors as well as procedures for discouraging undesired behaviors. This does not just mean that the teacher are left on their own to deal with disciplinary problems.

There is much to be gained by re-thinking the traditional punitive models of discipline. Traditional models of exclusionary discipline do not discourage future misbehavior, but they do lead to keeping the student out of school--which makes him or her more likely to be unsupervised and less likely to be gaining an education.

Anonymous said...

Punishment-free misbehavior. May as well demand from teachers what's standard at home, right? No real consequences, just chance after chance after chance. Talk about a guaranteed pathway to prison.

Sorry, did I miss the part about parents' responsibility again? I must have.

It's a blamer excuse-maker's paradise these days. Watch where it gets them. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Wow WSDWG, I'm amazed you didn't say just lock them up at birth. Behavioral modification doesn't mean there aren't consequences to bad actions.

Kids have problems. Sometimes that problem is the lack of parental guidance. So unless the plan is to house the largest prison population on this planet, something needs to be done. (Even if you like that idea WSDWG, think of the cost.) The earlier the better. It's not blaming the teachers. But kids who have behavioral issues are part of the class and teachers have to deal with them. The point to all of this is what can we do to help these kids (and their teachers) so they stay in schools and not in prisons.


mirmac1 said...

PBIS is what parents are taught to use (those that take parenting classes, that is). Why would teachers not use them? This debate is no different than the one over corporal punishment decades ago. Did that work?

How is calling the police on an elementary student, instead of implementing that students behavioral intervention plan with fidelity, going to help matters? How ridiculous is that? But it happens!

The other part of the equation is more staff and more intensive behavioral support. If students are removed to an alternative settings there must be real teaching and learning there, not babysitting.

How could anyone think the events in Mississippi are a bad thing?

Eric B said...

Oh wait, we are housing the largest prison population on the planet (as a percentage of residents). At last count that I saw, WA is about #15 among the states in per-capita prison spending, and in the mid-40's in education spending. Anyone else see a link?

@Whatever, WSDWG, and others, there is discipline. That discipline might even take the student out of the classroom they were in. It just is less likely to send them home.

dw said...

Eric B said: there is discipline. That discipline might even take the student out of the classroom they were in. It just is less likely to send them home.

At the risk of oversimplifying, I think there's a very simple formula (though the details may be tricky and vary from school to school and kid to kid).

The "punishment" for disrupting class for others must be less desirable to the troublemaker than staying in class NOT disrupting.

Apparently (empirically) being suspended is not worse to many kids than sitting in class and paying attention, or at least pretending to pay attention and not causing problems. The (weighted/likely) consequences do not outweigh the desire to disrupt. Sure, there are cases where some kids don't have the ability to process that in real time and make conscious decisions, but most kids, when faced with a DEFINITE AND IMMEDIATE consequence for a WELL-DEFINED infraction that's of significant deterrence, then the behavior changes. It does take time (and often repetition) for those behavior changes to sink in, but they do happen.

So if suspension is not an adequate deterrence, what is? That's the $64,000 question. Perhaps there's a room where kids are sent to catch up on their work. With tutors available. Yeah, I know, stuff like that takes money, but one can dream, right? If you disrupt in that room you get sent to a small room by yourself. No one to disrupt and no way to show off to other kids. With cell phone confiscated and absolutely nothing to do but start at a wall or work on your homework. Is that "cruel and unusual"? I don't think so, but I suspect others might disagree. At least it would keep kids off the streets and give them some modicum of support.

The bottom line is that for many kids the system in place is not working because the existing punishment is not an effective deterrent. That should be a fixable problem.

Anonymous said...

And... the "punishment" for discriminatory educational practices must be less desirable than the basic failure to provide education.

Apparently, (empirically) suspending a student, not educating whole groups of students, putting entire classes on a "to jail" pathway, is way easier than providing meaningful effective education. The consequences are never born by those who fail to educate or enact effective policy. Rather, we the tax payer are left with the tab for the prison. And, the individual pays the ultimate harsh cost for the ineffective retributions.

Another Reader

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with positive discipline and keeping kids in school. But pay attention to the continuing assault on teachers as authority figures just having it all wrong. Teaching, testing, union-membership, and now disciplinary methods, all just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Folks: Can't you all by now see a negative campaign when it's right in front of your noses? The current teachers, principals, and educators have it wrong, across the board.

So now even criminals going to jail is ultimately the fault of teachers not doing their jobs. Parents? Crickets. Love it. Anything else we can pile on with? Apparently teacher hunting season requires no license and never ends.

Life is a two way street. Want respect? Fine. Earn it and show it. The sooner at-risk kids learn that, the sooner they'll value school and avoid jail.

A hungry kid shoplifting a sandwich is one thing. A thief stealing stealing an iPhone at gunpoint, is quite another. They are not the same in any way, shape, or form.

I doubt the parents of the recent Sealth student shot by armed juveniles care much about what the perps had for breakfast or believe that or the wrong brand of in-school discipline had anything to do with armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, but maybe I have it wrong.

Maybe the perps simply had old-school lousy elementary teachers that forgot to teach the thugs that armed robbery and assault with deadly weapons was wrong.

I'm not against any forms of positive discipline, but I've seen it first hand do the opposite of its intended purpose, creating exactly the dangerous sociopaths we want to deter, because somebody else always takes the fall.

Every good method or idea is subject to being misused or wrongly applied. Let's see where Mississippi is in 3 years before we go patting them on the backs, shall we?


Anonymous said...

Exactly right. Shouldn't teachers and school staff also have to "earn" respect? The blind "teacher knows best" attitude is actually part of this problem. The ending of Discriminatory practices start when earning respect is taught and modeled, instead of discriminatory status quo maintenance - my way or hiway dictatorial compliance and acceptance. We know that isn't working, so why continue with it? An

Not Edreformer

Anonymous said...

Teachers have a responsibility to educate their students and provide a safe classroom environment. Parents have a responsibility to prepare students to be ready to learn and students have the responsibility to be willing to learn. If a student is wreaking havoc in the classroom and preventing the 25 -30 other kids from learning, then s/he needs to leave the classroom. That student doesn't have the right to ruin learning for everyone else.

mirmac1 said...


I've never been accused of assaulting teachers. Why do I feel like I'm reading the Seattle Times comments pages? Frankly I detest the attitude that all students who have been been singled-out for punishment had it coming to 'em. That's no different than saying all teachers are to be blamed for everything wrong in this world.

Students with autism or anxiety or social-emotional issues are easy targets for those who don't have time or can't be bothered or think it's someone else's problem. Ridiculous.

Please, thug, criminal, thief!? I know of many cases where the child's crime was being disabled. In fact, the students most often at the receiving end of punitive discipline are those in special education. Whether they belong there or not is just another area of prejudice and inequity.

Does anyone really think 30% of native-american students require special education? It couldn't possibly have to do with the way their culture was destroyed and the discrimination their families face.

I trust the Southern Poverty Law Center and disability rights organizations when they say expulsions and suspensions do more harm than good. Certainly more than someone who says they know that PBIS doesn't work.

Makes me wonder why I fight these battles...

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, you're mixing apples and oranges. I'm not talking about special ed kids, and as far as classifying too many kids as disabled, I see that as a very separate issue. Sure the two may overlap and mix, but that is not what I'm talking about. Nor am I talking about old-school punishment, suspensions, rulers or expulsion. I'm saying that discipline by its very nature is a reaction to a behavior or behaviors that are incompatible with student learning and disruptive to the rest of the class. If you're referring to kids with undetected or un-diagnosed conditions or disabilities that may cause them to act differently than other kids and be perceived as trouble-makers instead of kids in need of additional or different resources, fine. Fair enough. But what I'm talking specifically about are the deliberately disruptive kids with clueless parents who typically blame everybody but themselves for their child's anti-social, disruptive class behavior. We see them every year, regardless of class status, race, gender, education level, degree(s), etc.

I'm saying respect is a two-way street and I've met very few teachers who don't care about kids, don't try their best to educate every kid in their class, and take way too much sh## from absentee parents who don't show up at conferences and scream the loudest when they discover their child isn't doing well in school. If you have a bad teacher, take it up with the principal. If you have a bad principal, take it up with administration. If you have a bad ed director, take it up with the SI. Nobody is saying bad teachers don't exist or that all teachers can't benefit from current disciplinary training methods. I'm saying the best techniques in the world cannot work of both sides of the equation are not involved.

So, like I said earlier, where is the part about the students and parents bearing their share of responsibility to fix what isn't working? Oh, right, that interferes with the 10 year Bush & Obama campaign to bust the teachers unions, scapegoat all public school teachers, and hand public ed over to the profiteers. If folks here don't see the link and the deafening silence about the students and families roles in this new Mississippi style positive discipline scheme, then brand me a conspiracy nut and dismiss my warnings. Ultimately, I want a system that works, and constantly, inevitably blaming teachers for every wrong is simply dysfunctional and living in denial. That must change too, for any new method or system to work. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't teachers and school staff also have to "earn" respect?

Absolutely not. And that attitude is precisely the problem I'm talking about.

Like it or not, teachers are authority figures in your childrens' lives. If you don't agree with them or like their style, take the necessary steps to leave or have the teacher disciplined or removed. But do not permit your child to disrespect a teacher they don't agree with or think is cool. Those costly, unnecessary disruptions to the rest of the class are precisely what I'm talking about. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Earning respect, teaching respect, and modeling respect are all part of PBIS. So, if teachers aren't up for that job, they need to consider their viability in the profession. As you say, "Like it or not", that's what they need to be doing now. BTW. PBIS is a federal mandate. Sooner or later, they're going to need to suck it up. Discrimination, under the guise of discipline, is the real problem. How many ways does this need to be shown? WSDWG, I'm sure if your kid was subjected to this sort of discrimination, you'd be singing a complete other tune. And while you might be not see the many times teachers aren't available for students or fail to meet students needs or fail to really care about them - it exists, and it exists for some students very often - depending on who they are.

and take way too much sh## from absentee parents who don't show up at conferences and scream the loudest when they discover their child isn't doing well in school.

Really. How do you possibly know who shows up to scream the loudest? Or why?

You're all hot air, and self-righteous. Try walking a mile in someone else's shoes.


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