Tupelo works on new school discipline plan

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District is considering a new discipline matrix that would better differentiate between major and minor offenses.
The school board reviewed a draft of the new procedure at Tuesday’s meeting. After edits are made, the new matrix would be used for the school year that will begin in August.
The new discipline matrix comes at a time when parents, teachers and community members have expressed concerns about discipline in the district.
The new 60-page document is much more specific than the one now in effect and, said Superintendent Randy Shaver, will spell out responses for “almost any situation.”
“It will give us firmness, fairness and consistency throughout the district,” he said.
Currently, students follow the same discipline ladder for nearly all offenses.
Under Tupelo High School’s current ladder, for instance, step 1 is a 50-minute detention after school, step 6 is in-school suspension for up to 10 days and step 11 is suspension. Students slide down the ladder as they violate school rules, although certain infractions may cause them to skip steps.
The new matrix divides violations into minor offenses and major infractions. Minor offenses include such behavior as running in halls, eating in class, tardiness and dress code violations.
Major infractions include fights, bullying, sexual harassment and possession of drugs and alcohol.
Various interventions are recommended for the minor offenses, while the major offenses each have their own unique ladder of consequences. Those consequences can more quickly result in significant punishment.
For example, secondary students who have a verbal altercation or a fight without injury could face a five-day in-school suspension for a first offense, a five-day suspension for a second offense, alternative placement for a third and possible expulsion for a fourth.
A fight with serious injury could result in expulsion for a first offense.
Because the matrix involves administrative procedures, it will be included under the district’s current discipline policy and will not need board approval.
The new matrix has been developed by administrators, central office personnel and the board’s attorney.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.