Earlier this month the School Board approved a new code of conduct. Instead of one discipline policy for all schools there are now two - one for elementary schools and one for secondary schools. In partnership with a committee of volunteer community members, Dr. Vitti and his staff painstakingly reviewed and redefined the former code of conduct with the goal of creating more clarity and consistency in how the policies are implemented at the school level. "While not a silver bullet," Dr. Vitti said, "we have created a vehicle for better implementation of practices that lead to safe learning environment."
Dr. Vitti emphasized that the new code of conduct is part of an overall effort to change school culture to focus on developing the whole child. While this includes firm consequences for bad behavior it also includes expectations that teachers and administrators have responsibility for teaching children how to make the right decisions and to problem solve with them when they've made the wrong ones. It includes "progressive discipline," a best practice that scaffolds consequences based on the severity and frequency of the behavior. One significant change to be made is reducing the use of out of school suspension in favor of in-school suspension to keep students safe and connected to learning.
DCPS has already seen notable improvements in student discipline this past year in reduced in and out of school suspensions and reduced student arrests. The continuation of a dean of discipline at secondary schools coupled with an improved code of conduct and more training should allow the district to see further reductions in code violations.
Next steps in preparing all schools to implement the new policies include extensive training for school deans and in-school suspension staff, teachers and all other school personnel.