GHS looks at code of discipline

Thursday, March 22, 2007

In an attempt to bring consistency to the penalties doled out for negative student behavior, a new student discipline code is being developed for Greencastle High School.

Principal Jim Church presented the code to the Greencastle School Board this week, and is asking for it to be included in the student handbooks that will be distributed this fall.

"The bottom line is to bring consistency to our school in the area of discipline," Church told board members Mark Kannowski, Barry Fisher, Jack Berry, Monica Fennell and Mike Dean.

Church said one of the first comments he heard when taking over as principal at the start of the year was the concern about inequality in student discipline.

Assistant Supt. Kirk Freeman agreed.

"The first thing I heard when I first came here was, 'What are you going to do about discipline at the high school because it depends on what your last name is and who you are,'" Freeman told the board.

Church explained that in the past, teachers have often determined the penalties. But the code would take that out of the teachers' hands. The teachers can state what discipline problem occurred, but then the punishment can be determined by the code so that, for instance, use of bad language in any classroom will earn the same discipline in all classrooms.

"It spells out very clearly so the students know up front if they have a violation of a particular problem what is going to be done about it," Church said. "And what will happen the second and third time, and your due process, and setting limits on the number of Wednesday schools you can have."

There is some room for flexibility, he said, but care must be taken so that flexibility doesn't turn into the same unequal punishments that now exist.

Church said the code he inherited as principal at Northview High School allowed him to do more in counseling students on their behavior, because the discipline action to take was already spelled out.

"It wasn't my decision of what they got. They chose what they got," he said.

As for board member reaction, Kannowski said he is behind the goal of consistency, but he said in reviewing the draft he could see some vagueness for some actions, but specific penalties for others.

Church pointed out it is impossible to identify everything that could happen, but it is important to have the code ready to let parents and students know about it.

He also noted that the faculty overwhelmingly want the code, with only two teachers saying they want to stay with the current system.

The board gave its support of the code.

Meanwhile, in a report on the energy savings program, energy education manager Mike Schimpf and Energy Education data consultant Tim Flynn reported that after seven months of information gathering, the school district is saving money on its energy use. They gave a detailed report showing past usage of natural gas and electricity, comparing those costs to today's energy rates if no program had been started, and showing what has actually been paid since the conservation methods were put in place.

The school board also learned that its new corn boiler has gone into service, and officials are awaiting the results of testing by the Indiana Department of Environmental Manage-ment.

And, the board approved a resolution to accept a patron petition determining the need for the GHS renovation project.

The school board will meet in a special session at 7 p.m. Thursday (tonight) to hear an architect's report, tentative bid awards and authorization of limited notice to proceed on the project.

In personnel, the board approved four requests.

  • Sandra Nicholson will retire as an elementary teacher at the end of the school year after 22 years of service.

  • Deborah Rode will extend a leave of absence through May 5.

  • Tiffany Deakins was hired as temporary teacher for Rode through May 5.

  • Sharon Byrd will retire as a cafeteria manager at Deer Meadow Primary School at the end of the year after 19 years of service.

  • Michael Glenn was hired as special education instructional assistant at Tzouanakis Intermediate School.

    In other business, the board:

  • Commended Green-castle Middle School Science Bowl team members Lauren Goode, Alex Asbell, Katrina Stitzle, Alley McHaffey, Elisha Volland, T.J. Bollman, Victoria Evans, Haylie Romer, Josie Wood, Evan Smith, Shyanne Parker, and Ellen Gobert with Coach Staci Stoffregen for earning the title of state champion in the Online Science Bowl.

  • Approved several revisions, corrections and deletions from the NEOLA policies covering issues such as students, professional, support staff, finances, operations, ad-ministration and property.

  • Approved members for the GHS academic policies and procedures committee. They are Monica Fennel as board representative, high school counselors Shannon Fritz and Vicki Williams, teachers Vicki Parker and Glenn Hile, parents Wayne Lewis and Barbara Bryan, and students Olivia Miller and Zach Grammel. The committee will be chaired by assistant superintendent Kirk Freeman and principal Jim Church.

  • Presented the American Cancer Society's Award of Excellence to Greencastle Schools for the efforts of Ruth Ralph, nurse Kathy Custis and food service director Linda Nelson on the healthy schools initiative.

  • Accepted a donation of $2,000 from the Deer Meadow PTO for the purchase of SmartBoards for use in the classroom.

  • Approved the fifth grade trip to Bradford Woods from May 16-18.

  • Heard a review of district testing for writing development and computation at all schools, and an analysis of what those scores mean for student learning.

    The school board's next regular monthly meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11 in the Miller Education Center, 522 Anderson St., Greencastle. It is open to the public.

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