Quincy School District to begin reviewing disciplinary policies

Tom Dickerson
Posted: Mar. 15, 2013 10:01 am Updated: Mar. 29, 2013 11:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A public discussion is about to begin on whether some changes should be made to the disciplinary policies throughout Quincy's schools.

The School Board's Policy Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Monday to begin reviewing existing policies to see if some adjustments are needed to make the policies more uniform and effective.

Policy Committee Chairman Tom Dickerson initiated the review because he and some other board members wanted to see if some "best practices" used successfully at certain schools could be applied elsewhere.

As part of the process, school officials plan to review the language in student handbooks at each school regarding spelled-out consequences for misbehavior.

"We've made some strides, I think, at Quincy Junior High, and there has been some discussion at the board level that perhaps we should look at the discipline policies at our other buildings and see if there are any improvements that are necessary there," Dickerson said.

"You can't just apply things that we do at the Junior High at the grade-school level or middle-school level or high school. They've got to be age-dependent to some degree. But nevertheless, if there are things working in one place that we may be able to get some pearls from for another, that's something we want to look at."

Quincy Junior High School officials implemented a tougher discipline policy last August that has resulted in fewer fights, less profanity and a sharp decline in defiance and disrespect.

Some elementary schools also have been taking steps to try to reduce disciplinary referrals in their buildings.

"This doesn't necessarily mean that things are going poorly in our other buildings," Dickerson said. "But I do think there is some thought among the board that we should take a stronger look at discipline across the district and maybe see what pearls we can apply to the other buildings that we've learned at the Junior High and other settings."

Dickerson said no timetable has been set for making any changes, and he doesn't expect any decisions to be made before three newly elected board members are seated after the April 9 School Board elections. The terms of Dickerson, Bill Daniels and Steve Krause are expiring, and none are seeking re-election.

Dickerson said any decision to make changes in the district's disciplinary policies also "hinges on when the new superintendent can get on deck." He was referring to Quincy's newly hired superintendent, Steven Cobb of Fort Wayne, Ind. Cobb is slated to begin work July 1, replacing Lonny Lemon, but he hopes to come to Quincy sooner if he can work out an arrangement with his current employer.

"I wanted to make sure we didn't start down a path before the new superintendent had a chance to weigh in or the new board was seated," Dickerson said. "My goal was to get the topic teed up so that as soon as the new superintendent is on board, he can then begin some work on this with the new board."

Dickerson said the discipline issue has taken on greater urgency in light of some recent national incidents involving assaults on students.

"It all goes into the big topic of safety in schools," he said. "There's a lot of discussions about discipline that lead in to securing buildings. I think it's a big discussion."

Monday's Policy Committee meeting will be held in Room 230 at the Board of Education headquarters, 1416 Maine.