There has been much written about the disparity in the number of disciplinary cases resulting in suspensions reported to the state for Black students and students with identified special needs in comparison to peers. Every school in our district is working to remove that disparity.
What is not reported to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are the responses that take place in our schools other than removing a child from the learning environment. At Hastings, the response to children making poor choices and needing some form of disciplinary consequence is very rarely suspension. Our leadership team, along with teachers, assistants, and recess teachers, all recognize poor choices as opportunities for learning.
One example occurred early in the year when a group of students disagreed with the rules of the Four Square game. After a group of students got into a heated argument that became an office visit, the students developed a set of rules that they use for all Four Square games at recess. They amended the plan after trying it out, and have been playing with their rules throughout the year. Another example was a student who refused to follow verbal directions from an adult. Our response was to talk with all involved, make a plan for how best to behave going forward, contact teachers and families to communicate the resolution, and hold the child accountable, with his/her input as part of the solution.
The administrators in our school believe first and foremost that discipline should be a chance to learn from a poor choice and demonstrate that learning in the future. Our hope is to build confidence and competence in all children; to foster a sense of community and recognition of mistakes; and to encourage growth and change in behavior. Our ultimate goal is to partner with you, school and family together, to help all of our students develop into strong, committed members of our school community. We also realize that you may have questions about a decision we make in response to a behavior problem. Please do not hesitate to contact either Assistant Principal Katie O’Hare Gibson or me should you have any questions or concerns regarding our response to your child’s actions at school.