Discipline plan may be working

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Fewer children are being sent to the office for bad behavior in the Natchez-Adams School District.

Based on figures released Monday, that number has dropped by 12 percent – not as high as some officials would like while still a step in the right direction others say.

&uot;Any decrease is an improvement – isn’t it?&uot; said Joel Guyer, psychologist with the Natchez-Adams School District. &uot;I think the drop overall that we’ve got in this district kind of shows that we’re on the right track.&uot;

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Guyer attributes the drop to a new discipline plan, known as Effective Behavioral Support implemented last year.

The idea is to teach a child correct behavior through a series of steps or programs that become progressively more restrictive if that child does not comply with the teacher. It also includes only sending children to the office for major offenses or ongoing problems, Guyer said.

&uot;All we’re doing with this program is trying to teach the kids some alternative behaviors to the behavior they exhibit and keep them in school,&uot; Guyer said.

Based on existing numbers, office referrals dropped at Natchez High School, Natchez Middle School and McLaurin Elementary School and increased by eight percent at Morgantown Elementary School.

Guyer said he can’t be certain about why the numbers increased but he speculated it might be because of the newness of the plan.

As staff fine-tuned details of the plan district-wide and as students tested its boundaries, most schools saw a peak in the number of office referrals during the months of September, February and April.

With the start of the second year, he thinks district officials will have worked out more of the plan’s details and thereby be better equipped to assist teachers with discipline problems.

&uot;We look at that date and we track that data not to condemn but to see where we need to put our emphasis,&uot;&uot;Guyer said.

Millicent Mayo, the district’s public relations director and the former principal of Central Alternative School said one advantage to the plan is that it makes suspension – a goal for many students – less of a possibility.

Instead they are sent to a restrictive behavior modification and academic program known as Positive Choices.

&uot;Kids used to do whatever they could to go home (from school) because they didn’t want an education,&uot; she said. &uot;Teachers have to be very creative to teach now. We have some excellent kids. We just want to keep them all in school.&uot;