UPDATE: TUSD voted to approve the new code of conduct 3-2 Tuesday.
The board of Tucson's largest school district is set to vote tomorrow on a new Code of Conduct -- to roll out in time for the next school year. The superintendent calls discipline one of the biggest challenges facing the district.
Severe discipline problems have been at the forefront ever since we launched our investigation a few years ago that revealed some district and school leaders downplayed and under-reported violations in the name of incident reduction. That led to more violence and defiance on some campuses. The prior administration attempted to fix the issues, but efforts fell flat.
The district is now up to Draft 7, which looks quite different from the current policy -- less pages and more explanation on discipline processes and consequences, such as suspensions and expulsions.
The district called it a streamlined document during a recent Town Hall meeting on school safety. One of the district administrators, Michael Konrad, said "It should have a level of clarity that can then be easily taught to students on a campus so they understand what their expectations are and they can be held appropriately accountable."
As well as all the administrators -- a demand board members made during the meeting. "We want to be able to hold principals accountable for what's happening in their schools," said board president Mark Stegeman.
They're actions will be monitored by the newly created Discipline Review Team, which includes a Discipline Director.
The wording "Mutual Combat" is dropped in the newest draft -- replaced with "Physical Contact". The district attempts to clear up the confusion around minor aggressive acts, fighting, assaults, self-defense -- and cursing. Drug and fighting problems are different, said Konrad, because of the seriousness of the violation. He said if something happens multiple times and after using the box of discipline/restorative practices tools a student doesn't stop the behavior, then administration has the ability to raise the violation/consequence to the next level.
If the board votes to approve this Code of Conduct -- the district will work to provide training on all the new rules -- in time for the start of the school year.