Years ago when I was a union steward at the high school, I put together a chart that listed offenses by students and what consequences teachers should recommend on a referral. There was a range of choices for each infraction. I thought it made sense to have some teacher consistency in recommendations for how administration would deal with the students. Administration refused to use the chart at all citing the need for administrative flexibility in dealing with student misbehavior.
Year later we have now been ordered by the Office of Civil Rights to change our entire student code of conduct because there have been inconsistencies in how students have been disciplined - there were no consistencies and it showed. Shocking. I am sure part of this had to do with how teachers wrote referrals and what they recommended, but it administration’s job to dole out the consequences. So, that is our history, and now we have a new student code of conduct that is going to take some time to understand.
There have been many concerns about this new Student Code of Conduct (SCOC). We have discussed this issue at our Executive Board meeting, then Summit, and on Wednesday at the Discipline Task Force meeting. I am not an expert, but I believe that most of the issues that folks are concerned with are more of familiarity than of complexity or over burdensomeness. Here are my takeaways:
The “pre-referral” behavior log is similar to the PLP - it is used for documenting that you have addressed a student misbehavior. There is definitely no way to document every time you deal with a minor student behavior issue, so you will have to pick and choose which ones you believe might escalate.
One of the big questions we had was if you are required to enter info to this log the day an event occurs. It is best to try to enter info in the log as soon as you can, although sometimes it might need to wait a few days until you have time. You can either change the date on the log to reflect when the event occurred, but it was recommended at our meeting that you note the date in the description if you are entering on a different day. Dealing with low level incidents might fix the issue, but if not, you are in a position to send the student to the principal if the behavior continues.
Some members believe they can’t write a referral on something serious until they have used the pre-referral behavior log. It is important to find the correct violation so that this does not happen. For instance, if a child throws scissors at someone then you should find a violation where the first incident is dealt with in the office - then write the referral. Click here for a short chart that expands the index for the SCOC that may give enough explanation to determine where to start looking.
SCOC is very searchable. Find the appropriate violation in SCOC index, click on the violation to read the short description, then click on “appendix” to see the choices of how to deal with it. Some violations are ones that you should deal with first (or perhaps you have been dealing with, but not documenting). Some start with the principal. Others, like “terrorism” start with the district (and only have 1 type of offense possible). Or, you can search for a keyword to help narrow down what violation to use, like “cheating.”
SCOC is not going to solve all of our discipline issues. Nor will it make student consequences consistent, as is the charge of the Office of Civil Rights. It may help us in the long run once people understand how to navigate the system. I don’t know. What I do realize is that the more I study SCOC I find that it is not so different from what we have done in the past.
I urge each and every one of you with questions about SCOC to enter it into this form: (LINK) where it will get answered and posted every Friday on the district website: https://www.chuh.org/SCOCStaffResources.aspx
Few questions have been received by the district, so I would appreciate it if you sent your question to me as well - just to gather information and monitor the district for answers. I will not be answering all the questions because that is the responsibility of the district. The district is also staffing help sessions at every building during lunch and after school in a schedule that will come out soon. So there are other opportunities to get help.
We can get through this and it might help our kids. Don’t know, but we need to know how SCOC works.