Florence District One considering revising student discipline codes

Florence District One considering revising student discipline codes

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence School District One may see a whole new student code of conduct after more than 30 years of the same one.

The changes are all aimed at keeping students in school.

Each year, the school's board of trustees has made small revisions to the discipline code, but it's taken decades to give it a complete makeover.

It evolved to include new tools and resources to put in place when students misbehave, as opposed to simply sending them home.

"From a school perspective, we are always managing two polarities," said Carol Hill, principal at South Florence High School. "One is keeping kids safe, and the other is working around second chances. This new code of conduct allows us to do both, not either or."

The Code of Conduct Committee created a new spectrum called the 'Three Tiers of Intervention,' which includes a counseling program for students with mentors for support.

"We're actively trying to be proactive and identify the kids that are at risk earlier in the process," said Barry Townsend, a member of the Florence School District One Board of Trustees and a code of conduct committee chairman. "I think you'll see interventions at a much earlier stage instead of waiting until a kid really gets into trouble."

Townsend added that identifying signs early on allows educators to better decide what discipline action to take instead of dismissing the students.

"In many cases, the children who have discipline issues are the ones who are struggling in school," he said. "The last thing you want to do is have them miss more days, which is just going to exacerbate the problem."

Should a student make a wrong choice, the new code of conduct will give a range of options to correct the behavior.

Hill said those options include accountability, conversations and communication and partnering with parents.

"And yes there is still a place for suspensions," she said.

Townsend stressed the changes don't lessen discipline, but simply gives teachers and principals more resources to correct behavior before writing a student up or suspending them.

"We want the schools to be safe, we want them to be a positive environment and I think this will go a long way towards doing that," he said.

The Florence School Board received 100 percent approval when it first presented the new policy. A second reading and final decision will be made on May 19.

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