By Brett Shearer
Discipline. A word that sends shivers down the spine of every student. From referrals, to parent calls, suspension, and expulsion, disciplinary action is often taken with students who have broken the rules in one way or another. However, something interesting has been happening for the past few years: Disciplinary numbers have been dropping.
Obviously, it still happens from time to time. There will always be situations in which action must be taken by faculty and administrators, but it has been dropping for quite some time now, and there are a few reasons why.
Ms. Joey Gossett, assistant principal, believes that consistency is the key. She and principal Mr. Chris Conley have been working in these front-office positions for 11 years, and assistant principal Mr. Ross Elwood joined the team five year ago.
Prior to that, it was a “revolving-door” of administrators, and with new people comes a different interpretation of the rules, and a change of enforcement style of those rules.
According to Ms. Gossett, the 2010-2011 school year saw 1,765 referrals, averaging at about two referrals per student. By the 2018-2019 school year, there were only 479 referrals school-wide, a decrease of almost 1,300 referrals over eight years, with most of those being owed to cell phone violations and tardies.
However, this year has seen a crazy number of referrals, with a grand total of … 109!
“I don’t want to take credit for that,” Ms. Gossett said, “because our teachers, I feel, do a good job in the classroom. If there is a discipline issue, they address it, and it stops. The little things – if someone’s being a class clown, or someone doesn’t bring a pencil to class.”
It isn’t all sunshine, though, as cheating and plagiarism seems to be on the rise during periods of time when we are out of school.
Mr. Elwood shared a similar viewpoint to Ms. Gossett, but also said that attendance in the building has had a noticeable effect as well.
“During the first semester, there were noticeably less – far less – discipline issues, and for obvious reasons: we were out of school for 30-some days, I believe,” Elwood said. “When we came back we had some snow days. All of those added up to reduce the number of days students were present.”
He also thinks that the lack of lockers has had an effect as well. With newly constructed lockers not yet being used due to Covid concerns, students instead are carrying backpacks. Since students have less opportunity to gather, there are fewer chances for issues like fights to happen.
Mr. Richard Cooper, one of the staff members who administers the in-school suspension room, had his own interpretation as well as to why referrals and punishment are down.
“I’ve heard some faculty saying, ‘well maybe COVID; the pandemic has something to do with it,’ and I think it did,” Cooper saaid. “My thought is that maybe everybody’s had something else on their mind, and behavior wasn’t one of them.”
So, it seems we have a takeaway here: pat yourself on the back, everyone reading this right now, whether you be a teacher or student, lunch lady or janitor. Congratulations, seriously.