Description: This article is going to talk about the code of conduct and the importance of fairness and equity regarding student discipline in MCPS.
The MCPS code of conduct was introduced in 2014, it provides an overview of discipline procedures, protocols and a range of consequences, students could face for violating various rules. Today we are going to talk about the code of conduct and the importance of fairness and equity regarding student discipline.
The idea is that we want to deal with student behavior in the most positive frame possible, this is a school we want to make sure that we are putting in place consequences that teach lessons, that overall model, positive behavior, so the code of conduct gives us that framework.
It elevates positive behavior to the point where students staff family administrators, we’re all speaking the same language. When we talk about what it is that we expect from our students and how we respond, when that doesn’t quite work, the way we would like an important highlight of this guide is that administrators principals have discretion more discretion and dealing with issues that arise in terms of student discipline.
I think discretion is a key revision and I have to tell you that we certainly welcome that when we talk about equity, we have to think about prior incidents on what students bring to the situation to somehow. Say that one-size-fits-all where there are mandatory consequences,it discounts the differences between students and situations. So it requires some judgment, some decision-making and certainly a conversation about each individual child and we find that to be a powerful equity strategy.
I’ve seen a culture of collaboration, I think that there’s something very easy about having mandatory consequences for behavior. But it really eliminates all of the conversation and tough decision making. I think it’s purposeful that there needs to be a conversation when you’re talking about removing a student from the learning environment or altering, they’re learning environment in any way.
So the fact that administrators get together, we discuss the range of consequences, we look at the particular situation and we try to create a good match for what happened because our goal is to keep students in the learning environment as much as possible.
We want to avoid removing a student from school, it has to take place between administrators staff and the student to ensure that one. You can address the issue that occurred, but also ensure that the student continues to learn, that’s a multi-faceted effort. There has to be a shared understanding that any efforts to remove students from the school environment actually go to the heart of our school improvement efforts.
Those are focused on keeping kids, engaged kids have to be engaged in the learning, students need to feel part of the community if schools are ultimately to improve. So we begin with talking about the culture of our school, we make sure that staff students community, everyone understands what the expectations are and we try to make sure that our students feel that they are valuable part of our community. It is not to our benefit to have a student not here, we definitely need them to be here, they are important valuable part of our community, removing a student is the last option.
At the root of our efforts here at Northwood is the restorative practices framework. One of the things that our students have been very engaged in is sharing how student behavior or misbehavior impacts the overall learning environment. And so hearing from their peers how perhaps a behavior that they really don’t think that much about might have harmed someone else, and thinking about how they can actually restore that sense of community has really empowered the student community.
One of the things I’m most proud of is we’ve instituted a pure jury here, it was actually a capstone project for a politics advocacy in law academy, they take it seriously, they put it in the way to address students’ behavior, which require students to reflect and think of how they can give back to the community.
So I’m so pleased that the students’ voice is recognized and that it’s actually to a very good aim, which is making sure that we are keeping kids here in a positive learning environment. It is the second year for the code of conduct, but I think it’s important to note that it is part of the culture, I think of respecting that we’ve had here in Montgomery County and also the focus on elevating the student voice.
What I see is students becoming empowered, I see students taking ownership for their behavior and I see students being held accountable, not just by the administrators, but by the overall school community. What we are telling you is you’re an important valuable part and you need to understand how your behavior is impacted the community, you have a responsibility to do something differently students, take that responsibility very seriously.