VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach Public Schools are asking for community input on their Student Discipline Task Force recommendations.
The task force, made up of administrators, teachers, and community members, was established in January of 2015.
According to the schools, the goal was to analyze their current student discipline data, and make recommendations that would reduce the number of suspensions division-wide, close the disproportionate gap in the number of suspensions/expulsions given to African-American male students versus students in other demographic groups, and maximize instructional time for all students in the classroom.
Chief Schools Officer, Rashard Wright, says African American males only make up 12 percent of the schools’ student population. However, they are making up 34 percent of the school violations.
“We’re concerned,” he says. “We have a great reputation of reaching all of our students and we just want to enhance that and make sure there’s not a subgroup that’s left behind.”
After a year of work, the task force presented its recommendations to the school board on Tuesday:
- Recommendation One: Training for Transformation (this would include divisionwide training on discipline disproportionality, discipline training for all principals and assistant principals that includes cultural awareness and competency, divisionwide Mandatory Training with three-year recertification and building staff capacity to increase cultural competence and reduce implicit bias – principals trained and partnered with dedicated culturally competent teachers)’
- Recommendation Two: Increase the number of school psychologists;
- Recommendation Three: Mandate mediation to be the first step in the Discipline Guidelines for all offenses but the most serious offenses;
- Recommendation Four: Divisionwide implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS); and
- Recommendation Five: Establishment of an Office of Opportunity and Achievement (OOA)
The recommendations have been posted to the schools’ e-Town Hall for the community to give feedback. It will be open until March 1st.
“This is a national issue, but it’s a national issue that we can continue to work on and commit to,” says Wright. “It takes a full commitment of everyone in our school district.”
A summary of the feedback will be given to the School Board, which will be part of the recommendation adoption process, according to school officials.