By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The number of discipline referrals within the Tupelo Public School District declined during the first semester of the school year, according to data released recently by the school district.
During the period, the district had a total of 3,176 referrals, a 34 percent decrease from the same period last year. Including data from school buses, the district had 3,342 incidents, a 35 percent decline from a year earlier.
“I’m pleased, especially that there is such a dramatic drop at the middle school and the high school,” said TPSD Assistant Superintendent Diana Ezell. “I really think the overnight required conferences are making a difference overall at every grade, and I think parents are more involved.
“It is the partnership between home and school that makes a difference.”
Referrals at Tupelo High School declined by 61 percent (884 total), while those at Tupelo Middle School did so by 50 percent (620). Milam, Parkway, Pierce Street and Rankin all had significant reductions.
The biggest rise was at Joyner Elementary School, which had 69 referrals this year compared to 24 last year.
The new overnight conferences require parents to meet with administrators before their children can return to class after certain discipline infractions. Ezell said parent attendance has been good at those conferences.
During the first nine weeks, the school district saw a 53 percent decrease in referrals compared to 2011-12.
Ezell said new superintendent Gearl Loden has encouraged teachers to feel comfortable reporting misbehavior.
“We don’t not report it,” she said. “We need to keep the data true or we can’t tell if it is working.”
The challenge, she said, is to continue the downward trend.