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SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- Forget scolding or detention. A Bullitt County, Ky. school has discovered success with a different form of discipline. It's called P.B.I.S., or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.
One hundred and thirteen schools in Kentucky use this alternative form of discipline, and for the principal at Bullitt Lick Middle School, it took teaching the toughest of teens to get him to this method. Before he walked the halls of Bullitt Lick, Robert Fulk taught teens who walked through jail to get to class.
"I've seen the worst situations kids can be in," he said. He saw what worked, and what didn't, when it came to discipline.
"If a child is used to that punitive style discipline of yelling at them, telling them again and again and again, and it's not working, then why do you do it?"
The rookie principal implemented P.B.I.S. because he didn't see success with the traditional form of punishment. He said it is actually hard to get suspended at Bullitt Lick. That's because he doesn't believe children learn from such a form of punishment.
"Some of the most troubled kids, they are going to want to leave school anyway, so you give them what they want, and then they learn over time that if they misbehave, if they cuss out a teacher, they get sent home."
The program focuses on communication and learning from bad behavior. At the beginning of the year, Fulk said they spend three or four days going over behavioral expectations with students.
"We teach kids what behavior looks like, feels like, and let them practice it," said Fulk. He says they teach behavior just as they would teach math, language arts, or the like.
At her previous school, graduating 8th grader Sarina Hollaway experienced what she says didn't work.
"They just told us shut up, sit down, or they wouldn't talk to us about what we did," said Hollaway.
Now, she sees a change in her classmates that struggle with behavior problems.
"It tells us that just because we mess up one time, we get extra tries to learn our lessons and then move on," she said.
And it's working. Since last year, suspensions have decreased by nearly 70 percent, and referrals cut in half. Principal Fulk says it all has to do with respect, and a yearning for success for all his students.
"It would be malpractice if we didn't believe in them, and we didn't push them," he said.
And it doesn't stop with discipline. Fulk has a goal of making his school one of the Top 10 schools in Kentucky.