A new discipline system at Union County High School will mean more options for students.
During Monday evening’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees, UCHS Principal Floyd Lyles informed the board about upcoming changes to the school’s discipline policy.
Lyles said administrators and faculty had noticed last year that there was room for improvement in the discipline system.
Lyles pointed out that tardiness was the leading level-one (minor) discipline problem at the beginning of the last school year. For the first couple of months, UCHS averaged around 80 students per day arriving late.
“We were very aggressive in trying to create more accountability and more responsibility for students,” he said. “So it went from 80, to 60, to 40, and by the end of the year it was down to around 17-20 for the average number of students who were late to school.”
He gave an example of some students who had minor discipline problems early in the year, such as tardiness. He said those students had improved, but the improvement was not being recognized.
“They were doing an outstanding job from October-February,” Lyles said. “But because of the system in place, they were still being punished.”
Lyles said he heard about a discipline policy at Woodruff High School, and he and his administrative team visited the school to ask questions and find out why the system works so well. He said they were told that even though students weren’t excited about it, it was working.
The proposed system is one in which students will receive demerits for minor discipline problems. Once a student receives 12 demerits, they will have ISS (In-School Suspension). However, before it gets to that point, students will have other options.
“If you make a mistake, you have a chance to work it off,” Lyles said.
When a student receives six demerits, the student will be informed by an administrator and can decide — on his or her own — whether or not to stay after school and work off the demerits they received.
“The purpose is to keep our students in school, and we know we’re not going to be successful if they’re suspended,” Lyles said. “This system allows us the opportunity to give (students) a chance. If I improve from October-February, and it was a drastic improvement, I should have some way to build on what I’m already doing to be successful.”
Lyles pointed out that the demerits are only for level-one discipline problems, and the policy for level-two or level-three (major) discipline problems will not change.
Board member and former UCHS teacher Jane Wilkes said the new policy should reduce the number of students in ISS, but that also brought up another question.
“There are a lot of times that ISS is not really effective; sometimes students don’t mind going,” Wilkes said. “Have you looked at ISS for next year, and could you tell me what a student should expect and what will happen that day?”
“That was a major breakdown,” Lyles answered.
He also discussed changes to be made within the structure of ISS to ensure that it is not seen as a “free day.” In the new structure, each of the student’s teachers is responsible for getting the student’s work to ISS.
“If Johnny is in ISS first period, his teacher is responsible for making sure the work he was supposed to have in first period is in ISS,” Lyles said. “When second period starts, the second period teacher is responsible for making sure the work is there. If the work is not available, they will call the appropriate administrator and say (the teacher) didn’t turn in her assignment, so we go to the teacher and say, ‘you’re responsible for making sure the work is there.’”
Lyles also mentioned that he had met with a number of teachers earlier in the day about creating a positive environment in the school. He said he was pleasantly surprised at the number of faculty members who attended the meeting, and they decided to start a campaign known as Jacket Power: Every student. Every teacher. Every parent. Every day.
“Our whole mindset is, ‘How are we going to make our culture different?’” Lyles said. “How are we going to make it a better place for students?”
“I feel like the momentum is changing, and it’s a new opportunity for our students to be successful,” Lyles said.