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Classroom Chaos: TUSD drafts new discipline policy

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 21:30:38-05
Big brawls -- caught on cell phones -- over the past few years at TUSD schools have gone viral.

Parents, students and staff have come forward -- outraged that the discipline rules are confusing, inconsistent and ineffective as it moved to a more lenient discipline policy over the past few years.

The district has released a new proposed discipline policy.
At the start of this school year, the district reversed course and put harsher punishments back on the table while administrators revamped its more lenient discipline policy.

A look inside the proposed Code of Conduct reveals the district is seemingly reversing course again. To laymen -- meaning parents and the public -- the changes can be difficult to determine.

The current policy show violations, such as assault, are labeled, defined and given an action level from 1 to 5, which then can be matched with disciplinary responses, such as out of school suspension and restorative conferences.

But it's not as clear in the 2016/17 draft version. The violations are listed and defined, but there's no action level making it difficult to match the disciplinary responses -- now a long list that ranges from seat changes (Level A) to parent shadowing (Level B) to In-school suspension (Level C).
Education experts tell KGUN9 the focus appears to be back on restorative practices -- getting to the root cause of bad behavior -- but the real issue is in the execution. 
Restorative practices can involve teachers, counselors, psychologists, social workers and that "costs more because training is so critical and on-going staff development is essential."  According to the proposed policy, not all of the disciplinary responses will be available at every school. Staff have reported to KGUN9 that schools share psychologists and may only have counselors half the time. 
It's a concern of new school board president Michael Hicks. "I want to make sure this goes through all our schools. If we're going to do this right, it's got to be across the entire district and that's going to cost a lot of money."

Hicks said he will not give this draft an easy pass. "I'm looking forward to the responses from site councils and students so I invite people to send me their inputs," said Hicks.

KGUN9 requested an interview Tuesday with Superintendent H.T. Sanchez to get his perspective and explanation on the proposed policy changes. We were told Sanchez would like the board to hear the item before commenting.

Links to TUSD's Draft Code and Public Feedback Form.

PDF of Draft Code: