Superintendent: 23 steps to closing Ann Arbor's discipline gap in schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Patricia Green answered questions and discussed her plan for improving the district’s suspension and expulsion data Monday at the Student Rights and Responsibilities Forum.
She distributed a concept paper to audience members that outlines 23 potential “next steps” for closing what she refers to as the “discipline gap.”
Danielle Arndt I AnnArbor.com
Carmelita Mullins, a member of the ACLU’s Washtenaw education committee, said her group recently reviewed the discipline policies of Ann Arbor, Milan, Saline and Ypsilanti and found the policies at AAPS “very disappointing,” she said.
Green, who joined the district in July, described how her plan would be implemented throughout the next three years.
“Kids can be involved in conflict resolution,” she said. “It’s important to cultivate leadership at a young age.”
Green said to do that, she will propose having children in the upper grades from each elementary school come together for leadership training. She also intends to initiate a “Peace Education Campaign” in which the schools would fly a flag outside their buildings to indicate there were no major conflicts that day.
She said the idea is to empower children and their friends to start looking for positive behavior and to celebrate the goods things children do daily. Green added she would reward the “most peaceful schools” at the end of each school year.
Leslie Desmond, a trustee for the ACLU board, called Green’s attitude and commitment to the facts of the issue “wonderfully refreshing.” The nearly 40 audience members applauded Green for participating in the forum and for answering their questions.
The remainder of Green’s 23 steps include:
- Establish clear guidelines and procedures for removing a student from class for a timeout or detention.
- Develop a district-wide discipline referral form to better collect and analyze patterns and trends regarding student behavior.
- Analyze behavior issues, such as bullying, in the context of school climate information.
- Develop school-by-school discipline plans, as part of the overall school improvement plan, with clear and consistent rules for the classroom and the school by using positive expectations.
- Include student and classroom management as a factor/component in all district accountability measures. Also track each teacher and principal’s suspension/expulsion data and include in staff evaluations.
- Review the use of peer mediation and conflict resolution programs and consider on a broader scale.
- Consider staff training that focuses on pro-social development and the teaching of empathy, impulse control and anger management.
For further reading on Ann Arbor’s discipline gap, click here.