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TUSD board rejects discipline draft

Posted at 12:19 AM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 13:11:01-05

Could TUSD's new discipline policy be delayed another school year?

That could be the case based on Tuesday's discussion at the board meeting.  A majority of the board members believe the draft version of the Code of Conduct needs more scrutiny and clarity before they vote on it.
 
Parents, students, and staff have come forward outraged that the current discipline rules are confusing, inconsistent and ineffective and that led to more misconduct, fights, and assaults in many schools as the district moved to a more lenient discipline policy over the past few years.   
 
The district worked for nine months to revamp the Code of Conduct and released a new draft last week. It worked with the plaintiffs in the desegregation case, the Department of Justice, and the Special Master and the district said all parties signed off on the discipline draft. But the board members said they were not satisfied and believed the discipline policy is too complex and it needs more scrutiny and input from the community.
 
New board member Rachel Sedgwick said, "The document lacks specificity, and it would be difficult to use it to protect yourself. The time frames (of discipline measures) are not clear." She told the board the district should clearly spell out all the rules and regulation in one policy document.
 
Krystal Foster said she heard from the community about "the importance of staffing. A lot of the push back is we have to give due process, and we have to help kids rather than push them out. And we recognize that we need counseling, and social workers and staff to help with that process. That's what is so critical, and so I want to recognize that I, too, agree with the staff support that's necessary." 
 
Board president Michael Hicks said, "I don't want to pass this on the back of the teachers and expect the teachers to become counselors and social workers." Hicks also told the board and district that were properly executing restorative practices will be costly.
 
Foster said community feedback and suggestions included the need for micro and macro aggression training. Social media bullying and victim's rights also needed to be addressed.
 
Assistant Superintendent Abel Morado told the board that the district acknowledged the need for administrators to make sure that they understand the document and understand the intent of the document. "And we need to make sure our teachers are aware of that as well. And in addition to that we believe we need more training on classroom management, we believe we need more training on restorative practices, on PBIS strategies, and that if we do those things, then it provides a better environment for this Code of Conduct for this to be able to be successful."
 
New board member Rachel Sedgwick said "Not everybody is in agreement. We have not heard from the teachers. We have not heard from the students. Those are the two groups of people who are most affected by this document and although I understand and agree that the administrators need to understand this document. This document gives administrators tremendous power. I receive complaints from teachers that they have no power. They don't have a voice. That does not describe all teachers in the district it certainly does describe a certain percentage of them. That concerns me. We need our teachers, students and parents to come together to be a part of this process." 
 
Board member Mark Stegeman asked for information on the concerns of the Department of Justice, Special Master and the Medoza and Fisher plaintiffs. The district said they had one clarification they'd like to see in the document, and that is whether the in-school or out-of-school suspension is exclusionary. The district said it's currently working on that. Morado said although they have no objections to the draft version, they had concerns about the persistent misconduct and physical aggression that still needed to be addressed. 
 
If changes are made, the district has to go back to the special master and plaintiff for review. The district agreed that they would work hard to get this all work out by March or April to be voted on by the board in time for the 2017-18 school year. If that doesn't happen, it could take another school year before the district has a new code of conduct. Board members and the district agree that this is too important policy to push through.
 
Superintendent H.T. Sanchez told the board he put the discipline draft on the agenda to get a sense of what the board thinks about the proposed Code of Conduct. He told KGUN9, "At the next board meeting on (February) 14th, I'll put the item on the agenda to ask the board by what means they would like us to obtain additional feedback. If they'd like us to do community forums, town hall meetings, we're very open to whatever the board would like as an additional layer besides our online survey, focus groups. We're not opposed to getting more feedback because in the end, if it takes more time, but we end up with a better document that has greater community approval, then we're very good with that. We spent nine months on it, and we'll spend another nine months to get it right."
 
 
That could be the case based on Tuesday's discussion at the board meeting.  A majority of the board members believe the draft version of the Code of Conduct needs more scrutiny and clarity before they vote on it.
 
Parents, students, and staff have come forward outraged that the current discipline rules are confusing, inconsistent and ineffective and that led to more misconduct, fights, and assaults in many schools as the district moved to a more lenient discipline policy over the past few years.   
 
The district worked for nine months to revamp the Code of Conduct and released a new draft last week. It worked with the plaintiffs in the desegregation case, the Department of Justice, and the Special Master and the district said all parties signed off on the discipline draft. But the board members said they were not satisfied and believed the discipline policy is too complex and it needs more scrutiny and input from the community.
 
New board member Rachel Sedgwick said, "The document lacks specificity, and it would be difficult to use it to protect yourself. The time frames (of discipline measures) are not clear." She told the board the district should clearly spell out all the rules and regulation in one policy document.
 
Krystal Foster said she heard from the community about "the importance of staffing. A lot of the push back is we have to give due process, and we have to help kids rather than push them out. And we recognize that we need counseling, and social workers and staff to help with that process. That's what is so critical, and so I want to recognize that I, too, agree with the staff support that's necessary." 
 
Board president Michael Hicks said, "I don't want to pass this on the back of the teachers and expect the teachers to become counselors and social workers." Hicks also told the board and district that were properly executing restorative practices will be costly.
 
Foster said community feedback and suggestions included the need for micro and macro aggression training. Social media bullying and victim's rights also needed to be addressed.
 
Assistant Superintendent Abel Morado told the board that the district acknowledged the need for administrators to make sure that they understand the document and understand the intent of the document. "And we need to make sure our teachers are aware of that as well. And in addition to that we believe we need more training on classroom management, we believe we need more training on restorative practices, on PBIS strategies, and that if we do those things, then it provides a better environment for this Code of Conduct for this to be able to be successful."
 
New board member Rachel Sedgwick said "Not everybody is in agreement. We have not heard from the teachers. We have not heard from the students. Those are the two groups of people who are most affected by this document and although I understand and agree that the administrators need to understand this document. This document gives administrators tremendous power. I receive complaints from teachers that they have no power. They don't have a voice. That does not describe all teachers in the district it certainly does describe a certain percentage of them. That concerns me. We need our teachers, students and parents to come together to be a part of this process." 
 
Board member Mark Stegeman asked for information on the concerns of the Department of Justice, Special Master and the Medoza and Fisher plaintiffs. The district said they had one clarification they'd like to see in the document, and that is whether the in-school or out-of-school suspension is exclusionary. The district said it's currently working on that. Morado said although they have no objections to the draft version, they had concerns about the persistent misconduct and physical aggression that still needed to be addressed. 
 
If changes are made, the district has to go back to the special master and plaintiff for review. The district agreed that they would work hard to get this all work out by March or April to be voted on by the board in time for the 2017-18 school year. If that doesn't happen, it could take another school year before the district has a new code of conduct. Board members and the district agree that this is too important policy to push through.
 
Superintendent H.T. Sanchez told the board he put the discipline draft on the agenda to get a sense of what the board thinks about the proposed Code of Conduct. He told KGUN9, "At the next board meeting on (February) 14th, I'll put the item on the agenda to ask the board by what means they would like us to obtain additional feedback. If they'd like us to do community forums, town hall meetings, we're very open to whatever the board would like as an additional layer besides our online survey, focus groups. We're not opposed to getting more feedback because in the end, if it takes more time, but we end up with a better document that has greater community approval, then we're very good with that. We spent nine months on it, and we'll spend another nine months to get it right."