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Dr Sheffield’s amended discipline code raises the question of priorities in RSD205

I do not wish to get into semantics concerning whether the discipline code has changed or not under Dr Sheffield.  Nor a debate if there were too many out of school suspensions or expulsions under Dr. Thompson using the previous discipline code. 

I agree that students can’t learn if they are not in school due to suspensions and expulsions.  However, students that come to school prepared to learn must also be given consideration in the amended code, especially if disciplined students remain in, or return to the classroom in a shorter period of time.

What also concerns me about the draft of the amended discipline code  being discussed by the school board, is that administrators will be asked to categorize staff assault as being with or without injury. What difference does that make? Teachers should not be subjected to assault of any kind and the punishment should fit the crime.  Assault is a crime, not simply misbehaviour.

Finally, weapons infractions will have two levels of classification in the amended discipline code: use or unauthorized possession of a firearm, destructive device or illegal object.  That differs from a new entry, “possession of a dangerous object or look alike weapon.”

What is the difference between a “dangerous object” and a “destructive device?”  And does the amended discipline code meet state law requirements?  What happened to zero tolerance?

Education should be the primary goal of the Rockford schools, not behaviour modification.  What are these kids taught at home anyway?

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13 Comments

  1. JRL85

    Instead of elevating the standards of education in the Rockford School District, Dr. Sheffield has chosen to compromise. And to whom does she owe this compromise to? The “menaces” that have and will continue to hinder the individuals who attend school to learn and get ahead in the world.

  2. The difference between a real weapon and “possession of a dangerous object or look alike weapon” is usually the age of the offender. I wouldn’t want my son being suspended (and on his record) for bringing in a rubber knife or a star wars gun to show his buddies.

    A zero tolerance policy requires the suspension for the following silly story. Can you honestly say this boy deserved a suspension?

    “A New York City fourth-grader was sent to the principal’s office and nearly suspended for bringing a 2-inch toy gun to school.

    Nine-year-old Patrick Timoney and a friend were playing with Legos in the cafeteria at Public School 52 in Staten Island on Tuesday when Patrick produced the tiny plastic machine gun and put it in the hands of a plastic police officer.

    After Patrick’s mother got a call from the school, his parents met with the principal and persuaded her not to discipline him if he agreed to leave the toy gun at home.”

  3. Randy

    Maybe there should be different levels of discipline for fatal and non-fatal gun shot wounds.

    This school system will never be successful unless there is a strict discipline code so that the good teachers want to teach here and the students have their full attention on learning instead of self defense.

  4. monkey

    So my young son, who’s a strong student and very well behaved, should be treated with “zero tolerance” if he happened to put his Nerf gun into his backpack and my wife and I didn’t notice? Should he be suspended? Expelled? Really? Is that what you’re advocating with the “zero tolerance” comment?

    Needs to be a little room for interpretation here, Ted, and the realization that kids will be kids.

  5. Ted Biondo

    David and Monkey: I agree with you both concerning Zero tolerance. Many times when I was on the Board of Education, a logical decision process was needed to determine the required discipline for zero tolerance on a case by case basis.

    However, I do wonder if current state law is being followed concerning real weapons and I wonder if zero tolerance is still in force?

    The essential subject of the post, however, is the priority concerning those who are discipline problems, keeping them in the class for their educational benefit, even if they assualt people and possess weapons, versus the priority of education for all the students who come to school to learn?

  6. xteach

    There is no reason to keep trouble making students in the classroom for their educational benefit. Chances are they are probably failing their classes anyhow. Having them remain in the classroom serves as an educational deficit to everyone else concerned. The superintendent and administrators want to keep these students in the classroom because attendance equals money…plain and simple.

  7. monkey

    I think we need a balance between discipline and attempting to turn around troubled kids. It’s an easy knee jerk to just say “expel” but that just turns kids out on the street without an education. There, they are bound to just fail and be a drain on society.

    So, we need to realize that kids coming from bad homes may need to be set straight and given a second chance before we just dump them back on the street. But, I do agree that teachers should never be subject to violence from their students and, in those cases, we need to protect them and the other students.

  8. Ted Biondo

    monkey: I agree that we can turn around troubled kids but not at the expense of those who come to school every day to learn. Businesses will not come to Rockford unless we have more 4-year degreed people in our community. We are at half the percentage of many surrounding communities. We need to improve graduation rates and prepare for higher education or Rockford will never get more jobs.

    As I have said in an earlier post concerning ability grouping to allow good students that need to be challenged the opportunity to have a peer group to work with for highest achievement.

    I think that students who continually need to be turned around can be grouped with their peers and let the other students be free to study and not held back by kids who always disrupt others because of lenient discipline policies just to keep them in school.

    It’s a cold competitive world out there, at least it is for now, and if these kids haven’t realized what they need to do by 15 – 19 years old, they should not be allowed to disrupt everyone else! This lesson must be learned or they will wind up in jail.

  9. xteach

    Ted, I totally agree with your comments, but what should we do with the students who chronically fail and disrupt the learning environment? I think stronger discipline should change some of them, but will it change all of them?

  10. JRL85

    Ted, as Randy #3 posted, shouldn’t more attention be focused on the fact that quality educators will not be attracted to work in RSD205 under the proposed amendments? We stand to lose good teachers to other districts, where their well-being is held in higher regard.

  11. Ted Biondo

    JRL85: I agree with both of the comments. We have already lost many qualified teachers, students and parents over the last 15 years with all the emphasis on social engineering having the highest priority versus education .

    The minimum that a teacher should expect in the classroom is that they and their students are safe to teach and learn. The amended discipline code seems to place emphsis not on safety and education but keeping many students, who don’t want to be there in the first place, in class at the expense of those who do want to be there and learn!

  12. I am currently a teacher in a high school in RPS 205. I have thought long and hard about leaving a comment because I feel intimidated by the current administration, but someone has to let the world know what is going on in our schools. I feel parent involvement is the root of the problem. If the parents took the time to talk to their kids they wouldn’t stand for what is going on. I have been a teacher for over 20 years and I have never seen such rudeness and crudeness from students. Every year we have an open house two or three weeks into the school year. This year I had an average of one parent per class period. We have 4 parent-teacher conference nights where parents can come and talk with their student’s teachers. Out of 135 students, I sat in the cafeteria for 3 hours each night and had a total of 5 to 6 parents each night. Students know that their parents have no idea what is going on and know that the parents don’t care. School for many of the students means coming to class(most come on time now that the administration has been doing hall sweeps) sitting and talking throughout the class period about things happening in their lives with no regard to other students trying to learn, copying other students assignments, cheating on tests(It’s ok as long as you don’t get caught), expecting teachers to give them a second chance to take the test they just got caught cheating on, and expecting time before the test to study since they don’t study at home. These are the disruptive students that cause all students to fail. If I write referrals the students are counseled and sent back to class. I am then told not to write referrals, but to handle this in the classroom, and if I continue to write referrals I get a letter put in my file. This is the reason referrals are “down” this year. I have one student that continues to walk around the room to talk with his friends during the lesson shouting and cussing across the room, copying work, throwing away any papers that aren’t multiple choice all while I am trying to teach that I have written at least 8 or 9 referrals on this year. As of the last referral, he has accumulated a total of 10 points and has had ALE once. Calls home are attempted, but his phone is usually disconnected or no one is at home except a younger sibling. Next year will be worse since I am expected to call home every time he is disruptive. I spend every evening now trying to call parents that don’t care or are too busy trying to house and feed their children.

  13. Ted Biondo

    Leaving: Thank you for the courage of your convictions. Even though you feel intimidated you still made the comment and maybe others will do the same because of you.

    “Leaving” will be the only name you will have here.

    You bring up things that I was concerned about with regard to students who come to school to learn, being totaly disrupted by those who do not!

    The other concern I mentioned in the post is assault on teachers being classified, as to the severity of the injury. I can’t believe that should make any difference.

    If other teachers have factual incidents about a teacher who was assaulted and what was the response of the district, I would like to discuss it.

    I’m not talking about rumors or what you have heard but only happened to you personally or something you actually witnessed happening. The only name used will be whatever ID you chose.

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