School Suspensions Up, Violence And Vandalism ‘Trending Down’

Orvyl Wilson

Orvyl Wilson, seen here in a file photo, talked about the school district’s 2014-2015 Violence and Vandalism Report at the Nov. 12 Board of Education meeting.

The 2014-2015 school year violence and vandalism report contained a mixed bag of results.

On the one hand, reported violence, weapon and drug infractions and harassment, intimidation and bullying by students decreased in the district as a whole.

But the percentage of students suspended increased in six of the district’s nine schools, and incidents of vandalism rose slightly from the 2013-2014 school year.

Information on the annual report was given to the Board of Education at its Nov. 12 work session by Orvyl Wilson, the district’s direct of school management.

About 5.6 percent of the district’s students were suspended in the 2014-2015 school year, Wilson said. Suspensions decreased in the high school (14.2 percent to 8.5 percent); Hillcrest School (1.7 percent to .8 percent), and Sampson G. Smith School (6 percent to 4.6 percent).

Suspensions in all other schools increased, he said.

Wilson said the district is not happy with those numbers, and is “committed to working on them.”

In the elementary schools, Wilson said, misconduct by students occurred mainly in buses – where incidents increased by about 150 over the 2013-2014 school year – and in the classroom, where incidents decreased from the previous school year.

Incidents in the cafeterias and on school grounds increased from the previous year, but incidents in hallways decreased, he said.

The most common type of infractions among elementary school students were physical aggression, noncompliance with staff and bus disturbances, all of which were up from the previous year, Wilson said.

In the middle and high schools, most infractions occurred in classrooms, although the number of incidents decreased by nearly 50 percent.

The next most common place for an infraction in those schools was in hallways, but even there, the number of incidents deceased from the 2013-2014 school year, he said.

In the middle and high schools, the most common infractions were noncompliance with staff, cutting class, disruption and physical aggression, Wilson said. All of those categories saw decreases from the previous year.

“We realized that in areas where there is teacher supervision, there were less occurrences,” Wilson told the board. “The focus became on those areas where there was less teacher supervision.”

On the buses, he said, “we provided training with our bus drivers to talk about strategies to help us monitor bus behavior.”

One of those strategies, he said, is safety patrols, which “become the eyes and the ears for administrators to report on what’s going on on those buses.”

In the cafeterias, Wilson said, “we provided additional staff, safety officers and aides.”

Staff whop monitor the schools’ playgrounds were also provided with training, he said.

Wilson said there is a “significant downturn trend” in the middle and high schools, “but that doesn’t mean that we think our job is done.”

“We’re still looking at how we can improve the school climate in general, by focusing on areas like the classrooms and the hallways,” he said.

The information pleased at least one board member.

“These decreases are something we can all be proud of,” board member Pat Stanley said.

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