Natchez-Adams School District discipline numbers improve

Published 1:57 am Saturday, November 4, 2017


NATCHEZ — Disciplinary measures are down for the months of August and September this year in the Natchez-Adams School District, the district reported at a recent school board meeting.

The total number of incidents requiring a student or students to be disciplined by the district dropped from 138 in August 2016 to 136 this August and from 300 in September 2016 to 271 in 2017.

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School began on Aug. 8 in both 2016 and 2017, meaning data for the month of August does not include a full month.

Disciplinary matters can be as simple as a dress code violation or as serious as theft or possession of drugs or firearms.

The Natchez High School incurs the highest number of incidents, but the high school also saw a decrease in disciplinary actions so far this school year.In 2016, the high school had 67 incidents in August and 115 in September. Those numbers dropped this year to 55 in August and 91 in September.

Morgantown Middle School consistently has the second-highest number of incidents, with 84 in September of 2016, but That number dropped by approximately 74 percent to just 22 incidents this year.

Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said these decreases are the result of the district’s targeted efforts to reduce disciplinary problems.

McDonald said all schools have implemented a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, a national framework that allows school personnel to organize evidence-based behavioral interventions.

McDonald said it helps to be “very specific in the behavior expected of students and teaching students those behaviors at the beginning of school, making sure students know what the consequences are. There are also rewards for meeting those expectations.”

McDonald said she and others in the district have also been working with parents to reinforce positive behaviors in students.

“Parents are instrumental in making these positive changes in our community,” McDonald said.

Despite the overall drop, the number of incidents rose in four schools for September 2017. The most notable growth came from McLaurin Elementary School, which had 50 incidents in September and only 17 incidents the same month the year prior.

McDonald also said she was particularly proud of this year’s attendance rate, which was at 95.8 percent through September.

This percentile measures the average number of students in class every day, meaning 99.3 percent of students enrolled in the Natchez Early College attend each day, whereas only 93.1 percent of students enrolled in Natchez High School are in class daily.

The high attendance percentage, too, is a targeted effort, she said.

“This year, the district is working through a dropout prevention coordinator as well as our attendance officers here in the district to make sure we’re making contact with students when we see that there is a pattern of absences,” McDonald said.

The district provides incentives for students who attend school daily — some children are allowed to wear clothes other than their uniforms, classes can get ice cream parties if they have a high attendance percentages.

McDonald said it is not the incentives, however, that have caused a decrease in the need for discipline in the district.

“It’s not the incentives that impact them,” she said. “It’s being specific about what you expect from students.”