KONZ | Key voices missing at JCPS code of conduct meetings - WDRB 41 Louisville News

KONZ | Key voices missing at JCPS code of conduct meetings

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a committee put together by JCPS to revise the district's code of conduct and discipline procedures and possibly make recommendations to reduce or increase the punishments placed on students who misbehave.

Yet, this year's code of conduct committee -- a group of people selected by the district -- is missing a key component: the teachers and bus drivers who deal first-hand with discipline issues and are charged with writing referrals.

The committee met for the second time Friday at the Louisville Zoo. (Yes, you read that correctly. The meetings are being held at the zoo. More on that later.)

After the first meeting was held on Jan. 29 and no teachers were in attendance, the Jefferson County Teachers Association raised concern with the district. 

"We raised a significant concern about that," said Brent McKim, president of JCTA. "It is essential to include the classroom teachers on the JCPS Code of Conduct committee."

McKim said following the Jan. 29 meeting, he sent the names of three teachers to John Marshall, the district's chief equity officer, who is in charge of the meetings.

Marshall told me Friday that he received the names of three teachers, but he didn't know why they weren't at the meeting. When I asked them if they had been invited or told about the meeting, he said he didn't know but would find out.

McKim said he spoke to Superintendent Donna Hargens directly about the issue and she "committed to look into why we have now had two committee meetings with no teachers."

Following the meeting, JCPS spokeswoman Allison Martin confirmed the district received the names from JCTA, but that there was a miscommunication and the teachers were accidentally left off the committee notification list.

"The teachers, a bus driver, an ESL representative and an early childhood representative are going to be added to the next meeting," Martin said.

This is not the first time teachers have said they feel like their voices aren't being heard by the district.

And with student behavior and discipline a hot topic this year, it was strange to hear discussion about what should be considered "deliberate student disruption" without the voice of classroom teachers who are dealing with the disruptions.

According to data presented at the first meeting, Dena Dossett told the committee that 83 percent of the 45,000 behavior referrals written in JCPS are for minor infractions, while 16 percent are for aggression and only 1 percent are for law violations.

Dossett also said there has been concern that some schools are handing out disciplinary action that isn't consistent with revisions made to the code of conduct in the past.

As an example, Dossett said the last code of conduct revision in 2014 eliminated four and five day suspensions, but said that some schools are still issuing four- and five-day suspensions.

Implementation of the code of conduct was brought up as a main problem last time. Some principals told the committee that consistency in enforcing the code of conduct varies from school to school. They said what warrants a suspension at one school may not warrant a suspension at another school.

Earlier this year, Superintendent Donna Hargens proposed removing a school board member and the general counsel from the student code of conduct committee, a move that did not receive unanimous approval by the school board.

All of the code of conduct committee meetings are being held from 8 to 11 a.m. in the Gheens Room in the Islands Pavilion at the Louisville Zoo, 1100 Trevilian Way. The remaining meeting dates are as follows:

  •          Friday, Feb. 26
  •          Friday, March 11
  •          Friday, March 25

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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