Discipline Incidents Go Down at High School, Middle School

The high school and middle school both saw a significant reduction in the number of disciplinary incidents reported during the first semester, compared with the number reported in the first semester last year.

“We’re extremely proud our numbers continue to decrease and are the lowest they have been in eight years,” Assistant Principal Katie Sullivan told the School Board at its Tuesday, Feb. 17 meeting.

The high school had a total of 185 incidents for semester one, compared with 190 incidents in the first semester last year.

“We only had three ‘frequent fliers,’ students with five or more infractions. And 185 incidents is outstanding in our eyes,” Sullivan said, noting the school’s number of frequent fliers used to be in the 30s. “We continue to be proactive and maintain an open-door policy for students and parents.”

The high school’s frequent fliers were responsible for 11 percent of the discipline totals, and 93 percent of students at the high school did not have a disciplinary incident during the first semester, Sullivan reported.

“I commend you on these numbers. They’re certainly reflective of the culture in your building,” Vice Chairman Nancy Hendricks said. “I did notice the numbers for misuse of electronic devices has gone up. Is that due to the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy?”

“Those numbers are incidents where students are using computers or cell phones in academic areas when they’re not supposed to be accessing them for personal use,” Sullivan said. “The number did double, but more of our teachers are staying on top of it and writing kids up. It’s also a lot of semester one freshmen who don’t understand our rules yet. And it’s a societal thing. Everyone has to get in touch with everyone during the day.”

Sullivan said the first consequence for an infraction is a conversation, in which staff attempts to educate the student to prevent repeat behavior. The student is written up and must attend a 45-minute detention after school, with a phone call home to their parent or guardian.

A second offense merits a Saturday detention, and a third offense warrants an in-school suspension.

Member John Laferriere noted the number of incidents involving students who were in possession of and/or using drugs doubled from last year. (Related, see “Pay Now or Pay Later“)

Sullivan attributed the increase to heightened vigilance among staff.

“Of the 10 students, five were involved in one big incident where the students came to school all together. The other five were separate incidents where students were caught in possession of drugs,” Sullivan said. “We work very hard to make sure these are one-time offenses and students aren’t coming back. Staff is very vigilant and if they see anything out of the ordinary, they always report it to the administration team.”

Sullivan said phone calls to parents to report incidents involving drugs are hard to make.

“If students mess up, we’re going to catch them and support them and help the parents get through it,” she said.

While the number of drug-related incidents increased, the number of incidents involving cheating and plagiarism dropped, which Chairman Leitha Reilly said she was “happy to see.”

“We have an outstanding staff that really emphasizes that from the beginning, and emphasizes it again with every new assignment,” Sullivan said.

Also achieving a drop in the number of disciplinary incidents in the first semester was the middle school, which had a total of 129 incidents reported, compared with 233 incidents last year for the same period, with six frequent fliers who were responsible for 26 percent of the discipline totals.

“On a positive note, 91 percent of our students at Londonderry Middle School did not have a disciplinary incident during the first semester,” Assistant Principal Donna Dyer said.

The major contributing factor to the reduction in incidents was the school’s change in programming for at-risk students, according to Dyer.

“We have also really challenged staff to focus on positive behaviors rather than negative. We have a merit system and this past semester we had 160 students earn merits – that has more than tripled from last year,” she said.

The middle school didn’t have any drug or alcohol related incidents reported in the last three years.

Most of the disruptive behavior reported takes place during unstructured time in the hallways, often when students are coming back from lunch, Dyer told the Board, noting a lot of the incidents reported as disrespectful behavior are related to situations where students were being disrespectful to one another.

“I do feel we have encouraged the kids to stand up for one another, so a lot of times when an incident comes to me it has already been taken care of. I have been very impressed with that,” she said.

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