Discipline plan heads to teachers and parents

By Michaela Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Parents and teachers will have opportunities to weigh in on proposed discipline policies for Tupelo students over the next couple of weeks.
The proposed discipline matrix is more specific on the consequences, includes intervention steps and corrective actions, Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill told the Tupelo school board in a report at its meeting this week.
“It’s more prescriptive, less subjective,” than the previous discipline code, Hill said.
Before the policy comes back for board approval at the July 19 board meeting, it will go through focus groups with teachers and parents, Hill said.
Principals have already identified teachers who will serve as a focus group for the proposed discipline matrix. The district is asking past and present Parent-Teacher Organizations, as well as several church pastors, to help them assemble a group of 25 to 40 parents, Hill said.
The discipline code review began last fall. A team of district staff members looked at different discipline codes and decided to use San Bernardino, Calif., schools. Infractions are divided into safety and non-safety issues. Misbehavior that impacts the safety of others has the most severe consequences.
“We adapted it to reflect Mississippi laws and TPSD policies,” Hill said.
The discipline matrix is part of a larger effort along with positive behavior support and response to intervention programs. Initiatives are being planned for the first 20 days of the school year, which begins Aug. 4, focusing on expectations for student behavior, Hill told the board.
“If it is approved, it will be part of staff development before school begins,” including work to make sure the program is consistently applied across the district, Hill told the board.
“The emphasis is to become more consistent district-wide,” said David Meadows, interim superintendent.
The discipline matrix is divided into levels that match the district’s school structure – K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. At the lower elementary level, the discipline matrix allows greater flexibility, Hill said.
Discipline is one of the areas that has received considerable attention over the past year as Tupelo’s schools experienced a superintendent’s departure and public expression of community concerns.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@journalinc.com.