Payson Unified School District's Discipline Advisory Committee met for the last time April 23 to determine the final recommendations they would bring to the school board at its May 7 work-study meeting.
Questions they hope to have answered include: Will each coach be able to determine the standards for his/her team or will there be a single set of standards? Is there a way for a student who participates in class field trips, sporting events, concerts, plays or other club activities to earn their way back into an activity after they have been kicked out for discipline reasons?
The discipline committee will recommend to the board that a new committee be formed to answer these questions.
"If it is an extracurricular activity, (students) are held more responsible as a representative of the school," said PHS assistant principal and Payson town council member Tim Fruth.
The new committee will be composed of athletic coaches, teaching sponsors, parents and members of the community. This new "team" will meet to suggest the revision of the extracurricular and co-curricular sports/team/club code of conduct. That committee will use current board policies and other effective rural district policies as examples.
Former Lady Horn coach Rory Huff said the code of conduct and consequences for breaking it should be consistent throughout the district, so that principals are not left trying to explain the differences to parents.
Fruth, parent Linda Jackson, and Yvette Harpe, assistant principal at RCMS, will take the 20-member committee's recommendations to the board. Recommendations include:
- Align policies across the district and educate parents and students as to their implementation, including the governing board reviewing the current length of suspensions as it relates to academics;
- Rim Country Middle School discipline policies should continue as they are being delivered;
- The high school should develop discipline policies that are in alignment with the Arizona Behavior Initiative program now in use at the middle and elementary schools, with an eye to the relative maturity of middle school versus high school students;
- The Alternative to Suspension program should be evaluated and a protocol developed for a student's early return to their campus of origin, such as community service and a behavior intervention activity that addresses the troubling behavior. For example, current PHS policy dictates that a student caught with alcohol on campus may get up to a year suspension. The high school in Snowflake recommends three days and the school in Round Valley recommends up to 45 days, but after 10, a student can earn their way back.
- The discipline policy should be made user-friendly to parents in handbooks, on the Web and reviewed with students and special orientation meetings should be held for incoming kindergarten parents and parents of students new to the district;
- Create a position for a district truancy officer.
Many committee members spoke of the need to keep students in school. They also stressed that student consequences for bad behavior and poor judgment be reformative, not punitive.
The school board will not take action at its May 7 meeting.