Tupelo schools to review discipline concerns, trends in enrollment

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District announced Wednesday that it will review discipline concerns and enrollment trends.
Questions about discipline in Tupelo Schools have gained prominence in recent discussionsabout restoring Tupelo’s middle class, which new census data shows to be in decline.
The district hopes to answer those concerns with this review. Wednesday’s announcement is the first step of a process that will be outlined and publicly released during the next two weeks.
That review will be headed by Chief Operating Officer Billy Crews, the release said, noting that he will “lead a complete review and evaluation of real and perceived concerns.”
The move comes in response to public discussion, according to the release.
“A safe and well-disciplined learning environment is the top priority of our district and every district,” Superintendent Randy Shaver said in the release. “We will engage students, teachers, parents and community members in our review process. Everyone is a key stakeholder in the reputation and performance of our schools. We must develop a culture of respect and accountability to ensure we have a great learning environment.”
Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. recently announced ideas aimed at reviving Tupelo’s middle class, including a proposal to pay for Tupelo High School graduates to attend Mississippi public universities tuition free.
Critics of those ideas, including some City Council members, say that no effort will succeed until the district deals with complaints about its discipline.
They also have expressed concerns about students leaving Tupelo’s schools or families choosing not to enroll in them.
“We have safe schools, but based on listening to teachers and parents during my first six weeks on the job, we have some discipline issues,” said Crews, who began working for the district in January. “We can correct any problems and be a model learning environment for all students if we work together.
“My first priority will be to listen to teachers and principals. They are where the action happens every day in our school system. They deserve our respect and full support.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.

Public participation
– Those who want to participate in a focus group to share ideas about discipline or enrollment trends can call the district office at (662) 841-8850 or email Billy Crews at wlcrews@tupeloschools.com.

Discipline and enrollment
– Wednesday’s release from the Tupelo School District noted these numbers concerning discipline and enrollment:

– The district’s enrollment of 7,537 students is an all-time high.

– Tupelo schools currently have 386 tuition-paying students from outside the district whose families pay to send their children to the city schools.

– Data of students transferring into and out of the district since the beginning of the school year shows a net decrease of 40 students, compared to a net loss of 39 students at this time last year.

– The district has had an average of fewer than four discipline issues reported per day per school site during the first 116 days of the school year.
That includes all infractions – from chewing gum, tardies and verbal harassment to fights.