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Handling disruptive students
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There are countless reasons why students are disruptive in school.

They run the gamut from being cranky, hungry or issues at homes to kids being kids.

It is why Manteca Unified has an extensive repertoire of options to pursue before a student is suspended or expelled.

“We want all students to succeed,” noted Manteca Unified Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke.

At the same time, though, Burke said the district strives to keep the learning environment conducive for all students.

Last school year 57 out of 23,500 students were expelled or 0.25 percent of the entire district enrollment. There were 2,856 accumulative suspensions. The number can be misleading since the majority of cases are multiple suspensions involving the same student.

The latest national trend is for schools to pursue alternatives to suspension. It is a philosophy, however, that Manteca Unified has had in place for years.

School sites implement alternative means of correction in addressing negative behaviors that some students may exhibit prior to issuing suspensions or expulsions. Major offenses such as fighting, drugs, or weapons have immediate consequences due to the district’s top priority being student safety in such situations.

For other violations schools can opt for any of the following alternatives on the first offense:

ucommunity service on school grounds during non-school hours. With parent permission community service can be done off school grounds outside the school day.

uconference between the student, school personnel, and parent/guardian.

ureferral to school counselor, psychologist, or social worker.

uresource panel teams that assess the behavior and then develop and implement individualized plans to address issues in partnership with the students and parents.

uenrollment in programs teaching pro-social behavior or anger management.

uafter school programs that address specific behavioral issues.

Burke noted a high school student who continues to disrupt class or is defiant to teachers or school officials may be put in an on-site in-school suspension classroom for the day. The teacher in that classroom works with the student on strategies so they can make better decisions in or out of school.

Students may also be referred to Saturday school based on ongoing discipline concerns. Valley Community Counseling Services are also available at all school sites.

A number of district elementary schools have put in place Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports programs. It is a school wide effort that involves defining, teaching, supporting, and acknowledging student behaviors. It isn’t part of the curriculum but rather a framework and mindset. One example is Character Counts.

Such an approach has allowed Great Valley School in 2014-15 to cut suspensions in half based on data they collected.

When all attempts to correct behavior have failed students can be referred to the Manteca Community Day School (at the old Yosemite School campus on West Yosemite Avenue) that is operated by the district or San Joaquin County Community Schools.

Both have smaller classes as well as counseling support. Parenting classes are also offered to improve communication between the parent and the student. Extra intervention and counseling is also available for substance abuse awareness, and gang awareness.

“Our goal is get students back into the regular school system,” Burke noted.