Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

No zero-tolerance disciplinary philosophy for Lawrence schools

January 13, 2014


Lawrence schools already appear to practice much of what the Obama administration recommended last week in avoiding zero-tolerance disciplinary policies.

During a joint press conference with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder criticized zero-tolerance policies as increasing the likelihood for future contact between students and the justice system. A 35-page document was unveiled that outlined guidelines that include multiple efforts already underway in Lawrence.

Lawrence Public Schools — which does not have a zero-tolerance policy — has already begun to seek ways to reduce the time students spend out of school as punishment for infractions. Ron May, the district’s director of administration services, said elementary and middle schools have adopted positive behavioral support systems in recent years, an approach that encourages teachers to analyze and teach behavioral skills. In the process, May said, middle schools like Liberty Memorial Central have seen dips in office referrals of about 70 percent in the past year.

May, who also serves as the district’s suspension and expulsion officer, said the only factor leading to a long-term suspension or expulsion hearing has involved drugs, dangerous objects or weapons and criminal threats.

“We’re not going out of our way to try to find reasons to get rid of kids,” May said.

Students who are suspended, even for just a few days, can opt to continue their coursework in the district’s Suspension Alternative Program at the Lawrence Centennial School, 2145 Louisiana St.


Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 5 months ago

I am so glad that our schools do this. It seems as though on one hand we read about a child being suspended for making a gun out of a pop tart and on the other nothing being done for severe bullying until the one being bullied kills themselves.

I don't envy teachers for having to know when to step in and how much; they have to access every case on its merits and then make a disision. Thank you teachers for what you do for our students.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 5 months ago

Yes, thank you teachers for all of what you do. This approach sounds so warm and fuzzy, but are we thinking of the unseen problems?

What about the students who only seem to be in class to disrupt and cause problems?

My concern is for the quiet little young girl, or the dedicated to learning youth affected by students with major behavior problems. Least we not forget the young teachers dealing with severe behavior problems as well. Oh yes, this is a concern.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 5 months ago

I do feel all students deserve an education. Public schools are an excellent place to help children learn to adapt socially, but who suffers during this time of positive behavioral support? Is it practical to mix students into all classrooms?

If 100 percent inclusion is such a great concept why do we have so many private schools, homeschooling, and the increasing demand for virtual education? Personally, I do not have a definitive answer, but can without a doubt mention the following two facts.

When a classroom has students with severe attention seeking behaviors, regardless whether they can or can not control actions does change the learning environment. For all students. Well, sadly not all students in reality, those taking higher level advanced classes rarely have regular learning interruptions.

Two, often a chaotic type caseload effects instruction leading to teacher burnout.

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