(Image Source: Liverpool Central School District)
Liverpool, N.Y. - During their meeting on Monday, November 22nd, Liverpool Central School District’s Board of Education discussed strategies to address the behavioral issues displayed at Liverpool High School.
The Board raised a more stringent disciplinary approach that would include extending the number of days of out-of-school suspension [OSS], leading to mixed reactions from stakeholders and board members.
District officials have been discussing a possible extension to the number of days a student can be kept in OSS. The extension would go beyond the 10-day limit, drawing out OSS to up to 30 days out of school for repeat offenders or severe violations.
Board member Nick Blaney expressed concern over this possible extension, asking, “Do we really believe that simply amping up the number of days would solve those problems we discussed?”
Missing a month of instruction could pose severe implications, especially for economically disadvantaged students who make up a majority of the high school’s infractions.
“Even when [you] suspend the student, we still have the responsibility to provide them with a free and appropriate college education,” Mr. Blaney remarked.
He went on to claim that repeat offenders, especially for tobacco/e-cigarette violations, are most likely addicted and would benefit from resources.
Mr. Blaney proposed instilling programs for these students as opposed to extending the suspension period. In the BOE’s September 28th meeting, board members discussed providing a vape education program in lieu of OSS for e-cigarette violations.
Superintendent Mark Potter shared a detailed summary report of the suspensions that have occurred since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
There have been a total of 144 infractions, with the school’s freshmen constituting the majority. 44 of the infractions involved e-cigarette/vaping violations. 65% of those suspended were male.
The summary report also included a breakdown by demographic, including gender, race/ethnicity of the offending student, students with disabilities and/or individualized education plans, and economically disadvantaged students.
Potter stated, “we need to get to the root cause of what’s happening.” Dr. Mark Potter emphasized the number of suspended students who were economically disadvantaged, stating that financial hardship likely affects these students’ apathy towards school and authority.
Potter stated, “I want people to understand that in this particular case something different has to be done with this group of students [...] What’s keeping our kids from being successful?”
According to Dr. Potter, the school’s discussions surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion have led to a more holistic approach concerning student behavioral issues.
This proposal comes after a string of violent incidents at the high school following the shutdown of the district’s ninth-grade annex in the 2020-2021 school year. Nearly 500 freshmen were moved up to the main building on Wetzel Road.
Theft of school property, vandalism, and fights have been daily occurrences since the beginning of the school year. In September, a student was charged with the assault of a student and staff member after vaping an unknown substance.
Discussions surrounding student mental health and school security will likely continue to dominate future board meetings. The Board of Education’s next meeting will be held Monday, December 6th at 7:00 P.M. EST.