An update on our investigation into TUSD's discipline policy -- specifically Palo Verde Magnet High School. As TUSD is currently reworking its discipline policy, KGUN9 has been digging deeper into the district's major changes in discipline practices that have affected student learning and led to severe assaults on students and staff.
We've reported on TUSD's more lenient discipline policy to reduce suspensions and expulsions. But In a letter to Superintendent H.T. Sanchez, former police chief Roberto Villasenor wrote some student took advantage of it last school year and "welcomed a school with no consequences." Sources say students roamed the hallways with no fear of tardy violations and police reports show bloody fights erupted inside and outside the high school.
We reported that in the 2014/15 school year, there were 139 tardies reported in the Incident Detail Report. And 92 reports of leaving school grounds without permission. But the following school year 2015/16, the number of those incidents reduced to 0.
This year, a change in policy on how absences and tardies are handled, announced in a newsletter found on the school's website. It states: "One of the challenges that Palo Verde has faced the last couple of years has to do with attendance and excessive tardies. Therefore, late arrivals and early dismissals are highly discouraged."
Neighboring businesses told KGUN9 that students often loitered around their stores. And Palo Verde appears to be addressing that by "adopting a new policy this year concerning students reporting late to school with Starbucks and McDonalds. These items are causing a serious disruption school wide and are the root of more than half of the tardies in the morning. Beginning day one, drink and food items will be confiscated and held in the front office until lunch or after school. Beginning second semester all food and beverages brought into the school after the bell will be discarded. Our objective is to have students in their seats and ready to learn from the opening bell.
So Palo Verde administration acknowledges excessive tardies and attendance issues though not reported last year. The question remains: how will any incidents be reported and handled this year.
KGUN9 will continue to investigate and report on all issues and changes as the district reworks it's discipline policy.