Guilford County Board of Education


Guilford County Board of Education
Regular Meeting
January 27, 2011

To:

Members, Board of Education

From:

Maurice O. Green, Superintendent
Gwen Willis, Chief Student Services Officer
Brenda Elliott-Johnson, Executive Director/Student Services

Date:

January 24, 2011

RE:

School Safety Update

Safe learning environments translate into higher academic achievement. When students do not feel safe at school, their ability to concentrate on school work, to connect with their classmates, and/or to attend school consistently may be impacted.  It is the district’s responsibility to create a learning environment where all children are served in a safe school.

Student Discipline Data Management
Guilford County Schools (GCS) student discipline data is maintained using School Safety Program (SSP) data management in lieu of NC Wise.  In accordance with North Carolina legislation and State Board of Education policy, an annual report is submitted by the district to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction by June 30th of each academic year.  A review of the 2009-10 annual student discipline data report indicates progress is being made toward meeting the following goals outlined in Area V – Safe Schools and Character Development of the GCS Strategic Plan (see Attachments B and C).

Strategic Plan Goal

2007-08
(Baseline)

2008-09

Dif
(between Baseline and 2008-09)

2009-10

Dif
(between Baseline and 2009-10)

V.D – Decrease the number of overall out-of-school suspensions related to non-compliance and discourteous acts by 15%.

6,972

7,026

+0.8%

6,028

-13.5%

V.E – Decrease the number of state reportable incidents of inappropriate behavior per 1,000 students by 10%.

638

545

-14.6%

608

-4.7%

State and federal legislation on school crime and violence creates specific reporting obligations for North Carolina schools.  North Carolina General Statute 115C-288(g) requires that principals immediately report certain serious acts of crime and/or violence to law enforcement, often referred to as the “16 reportable acts or offenses”.  Recently, the definitions of these 16 acts were revised (see Attachment D).  Further, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) made revisions to its student discipline data reporting requirements (see Attachment E).  Of the 16 reportable offenses, nine are considered by the State Board of Education when designating a school as persistently dangerous (see Attachment F)

In addition to the “16 reportable acts,” there are 11 other offenses for which the State Board of Education mandates annual reporting to NCDPI, regardless of the disciplinary consequences administered to students (stated in Attachment E).  The Guilford County Schools (GCS) Student Code of Conduct also establishes specific behavior expectations for students.  While not every offense for which GCS has established student behavior expectations is required to be reported to NCDPI, the NC Discipline Data Reporting Procedures Handbook states that “using the system to record all incidents can help principals and LEA officials gain perspective on the entirety of disciplinary incidents and consequences.”

In 2009-10, the GCS Strategic Plan Discipline Deployment Team completed a comprehensive review of the GCS Student Code of Conduct, board policies and procedures related to student discipline, intervention and prevention strategies, and the current processes for maintaining student discipline data.  During this review, the team found that schools using the Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) program enter all student discipline referrals into School-wide Information System (SWIS), a web-based information system designed to help schools use student discipline data to design school-wide and individual student interventions.  In order to obtain consistency for all schools in the use of student discipline data, the Strategic Plan Discipline Deployment Team recommended revisions to the School Safety Program (SSP), the GCS student discipline data management system. SSP was upgraded to provide all schools more specificity for recording student offenses and the enhanced software was launched in the 2010-11 school year. 

A data comparison of the “16 reportable acts” for the period of July through November for the 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years is attached (see Attachment A).  However, a comparison of data for the 2010-11 school year to data from previous years is of limited utility due to the following reasons:  (1) Changes in the definitions of the “16 reportable offenses”, (2) the addition and deletion of some categories, and (3) principal interpretation of the new district requirement to enter all student discipline referrals has created inconsistencies in reporting throughout the district.  To address reporting inconsistencies, the School Safety Office will provide additional training sessions for principals, data collectors, and school resource officers (SROs) as well as individual assistance on an as needed basis.  Principals will continue to review data on a monthly basis with data collectors and SROs (where applicable) to ensure accuracy in reporting before submitting data to the School Safety Office.  Monthly data are compiled at the end of the school year to create the annual report required by the NCDPI.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), currently used in 50 of the district’s schools, is a research-based process of creating proactive, school-wide systems with a focus on prevention of inappropriate behaviors and recognition of appropriate behaviors. PBIS creates causes schools to handle discipline systemically, to make data-driven decisions, and to develop consistent expectations for staff and student interactions. In the PBIS process a school defines a set of universal behavior expectations taught through classroom instruction. PBIS focuses on creating and sustaining school environments that encourage appropriate conduct from all students and positive staff-to-student interactions. The process uses data to continuously evaluate the behavior support systems to increase instructional time. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary (universal), secondary (targeted), and tertiary (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results for all children and youth by making problem behavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.

Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Prevention
During legislature session 2009, the General Assembly of NC passed Senate Bill 526 to enact the School Violence Prevention Act.  This bill requires schools to adopt strong policies against bullying and harassment, including bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and provides strong policies to protect all students from bullying.  Senate Bill 526 also references cyberbullying and acknowledges the severity of harassment, bullying and discrimination (HBD) and its impact on students.  GCS has clearly defined policies and procedures to address harassment, bullying and discrimination: Student Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Free Environment - JCDAD/JCDAD-P; Sexual Harassment by Students - JCDAE/JCDAE-P; Staff Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination Free Environment - GAMA/GAMA-P; and Sexual Harassment of Students GAMAA/GAMAA-P.  Recent procedure changes provide specific processes for students/staff to anonymously report incidents of harassment, bullying and discrimination.  The GCS Counseling Services website provides resources for students, parents, administrators, and school staff (http://www.gcsnc.com/bullying).  Additional curriculum resources are electronically accessible by staff.

After receiving HBD Intervention and Prevention training, school counselors assisted with training of school staff.  Additionally, school counselors are providing in-class and individual bullying prevention and intervention training to students. Peer mediation training has also been provided for school counselors on the importance of student facilitation and training for Peer Mediation programs; the impact on personal/social growth for both student mediators and student participants in peer mediation programs; and role playing among participants and peer mediation scripts for students. Regional student assistance program (SAP) coaches are also a resource for providing HBD Intervention and Prevention training to school staff, parents and students. HBD parent training sessions have been developed and will be offered through the Guilford Parent Academy.  Currently under development are additional materials to integrate HBD Prevention and Intervention into the district’s Character Development Initiative.

Through the Student Human Relations Commission and National Conference for Community and Justice’s (NCCJ) “Changing in the Middle” program, students are being provided opportunities to learn about the importance of treating each other with dignity, regardless of differences.  A number of schools are engaging students in service-learning projects that address HBD.  Students are learning how to “be the change they want to see” by tackling these tough issues in their schools.

Substance Abuse Prevention
Guilford County Schools is committed to providing schools, our students and parents with the resources and skills to resist the influences of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.  To address these behaviors in our schools, our regional Student Assistance Program coaches provide classroom-level sessions, parental consultations and assessments.  Additionally, Lifestyles, a substance abuse education and intervention program, is available to students who have been found in violation of Rule 24 – Use, Sale or Distribution of Controlled Substances.  The Lifestyles classes are provided by trained substance abuse counselors at regional sites across the county.  The program provides students an alternative to suspension and the knowledge and skills to live a drug-free life.  To date this year, Student Services has processed 69 referrals to the Lifestyles program. 

Additionally, GCS has active S.M.A.R.T. (Student Mentoring Awareness and Resource) teams in all middle and high schools.  The S.M.A.R.T. program’s primary objective is to create student-led substance abuse prevention/intervention teams that are able to lead activities and events that help to promote a “drug-free” environment in their school. The district provides a stipend for a S.M.A.R.T. faculty liaison position at each school.  Also, numerous parent training sessions are held throughout the school year.  During this year’s Title I Parent Conference, staff from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Character Development department provided training to parents on substance abuse prevention/intervention.  Parent sessions will also be provided via the Guilford Parent Academy.

At the board meeting, staff will review year-to-date data on the “16 reportable offenses” and discuss actions and strategies for preventions and interventions.

Attachment(s):