GCS Presents Data on School Safety

A preliminary student discipline report on the 2010-11 school year was shared with the Board of Education Thursday, July 28. Data showed a decrease in in-school (ISS) and out-of-school suspensions (OSS) for the 2010-11 school year. Increases were noted in possession of a non-firearm weapon and verbal/physical assaults on staff. The data is gathered as part of an annual report to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Some increases in data are due changes in how offenses are reported. The state added 11 new reporting categories for the 2010-11 school year; some categories are for relatively minor offenses. North Carolina General Statute 115C-288(g) also 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.”

“While we’re pleased that we have made significant progress in some key areas, this report shows we still have more work to do with our students and staff,” said Gwen Willis, chief student services officer. “We believe that by partnering with school personnel, students and parents, we are providing a safe and positive learning environment in our schools.”

During the last year, principals and staff received more training about school safety and student discipline, and the district moved to a uniform reporting system to improve data collection and analysis. This change in the district’s reporting system resulted in an increase in the number of reported incidents and offenses. However, there was still a significant decrease in the number of in-school and out-of-school suspensions.

Offenses resulting in OSS decreased from 10,974 in 2009-10 to 10,896 in 2010-11. Three years ago, offenses resulting in OSS totaled more than 12,000 offenses. Offenses resulting in ISS showed even more progress. In 2009-10, ISS totaled 12,021 and decreased to 10,825 in 2010-11. Data also showed that African-American students were suspended more often than any other student group, an issue the district is addressing in variety of ways.

Individual schools showed improvements in out-of-school suspensions, including Aycock Middle and Northeast High. At Aycock, the number of suspensions decreased from 208 in 2009 to 145 in 2010 and 101 in 2011. Northeast High showed a decrease of nearly 100 suspensions in one year – from 394 in 2010 to 299 in 2011. Both schools addressed the issues of school discipline openly to their students, staff and parents, and encouraged a responsible and respectful school culture and parent involvement.

The district addresses school safety in Area V – Safe Schools and Character Development of the strategic plan. The preliminary 2010-11 student discipline data report indicates the district exceeded expectations for Goal V.D., decreasing the number of overall out-of-school suspensions related to non-compliance and discourteous acts by 15 percent. However, the district has not made adequate progress toward Goal V.E., decreasing the number of state reportable incidents of inappropriate behavior per 1,000 students by 10 percent.

GCS promotes school safety through school-based intervention and prevention programs. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is currently used in 50 schools. It is a school-wide program that sets common expectations for behavior. PBIS focuses on creating and sustaining school environments that encourage appropriate conduct from all students and positive staff-to-student interactions. Data is used continuously to evaluate the behavior support systems.

Student-led S.M.A.R.T. teams in middle and high schools also hold activities and events to help promote a drug-free environment in their school. Trainings for parents have also been offered through Guilford Parent Academy and will continue to be offered this fall. Many schools also have Student Human Relations Commissions that provide programs for students.