School Board Receives Discipline Update

Katie Sullivan and other Londonderry High School staff members weren’t surprised when they had to discipline students for incidents with I-phones, I-pads and tablets. The more students use electronic devices, the more opportunity there is to misuse them, the LHS Assistant Principal told the School Board.

Sullivan and Londonderry Middle School Assistant Principal Donna Dyer gave their final discipline reports for the year to the School Board in its June 21 meeting. While some of the concerns such as the use of devices are in sync with the times, others, such as bullying, are as old as the ages. But overall, both women reported that incidents are generally down.

For Sullivan, that means 184 recorded incidents compared to 185 at the end of 2014-15. She credits the number to programs such as RTI (Response to Intervention) and the Life Of a Lancer initiative for athletes and club members. For children in Life Of a Lancer, she did not see one infraction from this population all year.

She and the staff did see, and anticipated, a fair amount of absenteeism in the spring, which she attributed to good weather and “Senior-it is.” The misuse of electronic devices also came as no shock, she said, adding that the staff and faculty are dedicated to helping students become good digital citizens. “We will help them stay on task, and keep educating them in the right way,” she said.

Alcohol has gone from three incidents in 2013-14 to zero in 2014-15, and also zero this year, according to her report. Drug possession and/or use was six incidents, down from last year’s 10, her report stated.  Fighting went from two (2013-14) to five (2014-15) to zero this year. Being found with a weapon dropped from three in 2013-14 to zero.

Numbers for harassment/bullying (zero), dress code violations (one) and parking violation (nine) may seem low, she said, but that’s because these issues are dealt with on a daily basis, and resolved. “It’s not that they’re not there,” she said, “but that they resolve themselves.”

Sullivan also congratulated this year’s seniors on a flawless Graduation Week. “They showed style, class, they were on time, they got in line when they were supposed to,” she said. “That doesn’t happen in every school.”

She praised all her students, saying, “There are a million opportunities to make a mistake at Londonderry High School, and 93 percent of our students do the right thing.”

Board member Dan Lekas, commenting on the “device” issue, said, “I notice some kids get the shakes when they’re without their phones for 20 minutes.”

Sullivan responded, “The halls are very quiet at pass time.”

Board chair Nancy Hendricks asked about the 20 incidents of students being “disrespectful.” “Toward the faculty? Toward each other?” she asked.

Both, Sullivan said. “We try to nip that in the bud.”

Hendricks also asked about “sent to house office,” and Sullivan said those were usually students who were having a bad day. “They’re angry, unsettled, maybe they didn’t eat breakfast,” she said, so they are sent to the house office so other children can concentrate.

“What is ‘unauthorized area’?” Hendricks asked.

Sullivan said it is when a student is found without a pass. They didn’t ask for one or forgot it, she said. “They’re supposed to be in the library, you find them in the math lab.”

Dyer said she logged 192 incidents this semester. “We had 200 last year — it’s down a little,” she told the board.

Out of the 192, 79 were one-time offenders, and the rest were repeat cases, with five “frequent flyers” who have had five or more infractions. In all cases, she’ll ask them to take ownership and be responsible, Dyer said.

But she’s pleased that out of 1,000 students, 896 had no discipline issues.

“Roughhousing, pushing and shoving” dropped dramatically, from 34 in 2013-14 to 20, 2014-15 to six incidents this year. Dyer said that was in part due to a new category, “physical contact,” which encompasses things such as kicking or tripping. “Roughhousing” is reserved for the friendly horsing around of adolescent boys, she said.

Dyer credited the school’s discipline drop to many things, including the “merit system” in which students doing well can be recognized over the loudspeaker; the guidance department, which visits every class to speak on harassment and bullying; and a select corps of seventh-and eighth-grader who are peer mentors with 30 sixth-graders.

Hendricks said, “I still hear a little about bullying on the buses. How do you curtail that?”

Dyer said, “It’s hard for the drivers to deal with it when they’re trying to drive.” Fortunately, she said, the district’s buses are equipped with video.

“We had a few incidents this year and we took care of them,” Dyer said.

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