Jefferson County Public Schools administrators are undergoing training this summer to increase consistency of how discipline is meted out through the district.
Assistant principals, principals and school resource officers are meeting with district officials and University of Louisville professors to ensure that recent revisions to the student code of conduct are understood and that proper practices are applied appropriately to all disciplinary cases.
John Marshall, the assistant superintendent of the district’s Department of Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Programs, said it is difficult to say how inconsistent administrators have been in handing down discipline in previous years. He said the summer training is important to create a safer school environment and keep students in class.
“Because of the massive changes to the code of conduct, it is very important that we are comprehensive and everyone gets it,” he said.
Marshall said school leaders are required to attend the training sessions. Community members are welcome to attend, but aren’t required.
A special committee met several times throughout the school year to adjust the student code of conduct.
They reduced the maximum suspension days for certain offenses and gave teachers more options in dealing with classroom disturbances.
The aim is to reduce student suspensions, which statistics show is disproportionate among white and black students. Some board members, however, were leery of the new procedures.
Board member Debbie Wesslund said she thought the changes were made “too fast.”
Superintendent Donna Hargens said the code of conduct is expected to be applied evenly to every student in every school.
Marshall said the training aims at doing just that.
“We need to get to a point where disruptive behavior in Fern Creek looks the same as it does in Seneca and the infraction they write it up for,” he said.
A bulk of the summer training focuses on restorative practices and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports. These were hot topics of debate between district leaders and community members.
The training is expected to be completed by the start of the next school year.