AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Officials are working to get a handle on discipline in Aiken County after data showed this past school year was on track to be one of the worst.
Aiken County Schools wants to improve lost instruction time due to out of school suspensions. We’ve learned from officials, in the 2018-19 school year, 183,000 hours of instructional time was lost compared to 130,000 the 2019-20 school year. “We try to get our principals to look at this information and to come up with strategies within their building. There’s not a cookie-cutter solution sometimes with these things,” Hearing Officer for Aiken County Public Schools Johnny Spears said at a recent board of education meeting.
Those top offenses, he says, tardies, refusing to obey and cutting class. “Up until the school closures, I really thought we were going to surpass last year’s numbers,” he added.
RELATED: AIKEN COUNTY DISCIPLINE DATA
Officials are coming up with a game plan in order to curb the numbers. The school district has created youth development teams. The groups are made up of school administrators, counselors, and teachers from every subject area. “Our goals for the individual youth development teams establish effective practices and protocols for schools to identify and teach and monitor and hold students accountable,” he said.
That, in turn, ensures timely and consistent intervention and discipline across the school district. “We want all of our students to understand that there are rules and the protocols that we have established in our buildings and provide teachers with onsite resources and training if you’re in classroom management,” he shared.
As far as classroom management, last year, the district began to implemented Time to Teach to help teachers. We’ve learned last summer, teams from each school met at South Aiken High to be trained by the Center for Teacher Effectiveness over a three-day period. They were given information, acted out scenarios, and had small group discussions. The information was meant to be taken back to their home school to help affect change.
Spears also shared that counseling and mental health support could be the key when dealing with students with behavioral issues. Programs are already in place at area elementary schools dealing with social, emotional learning, and mental health.
It’s giving students a foundation early so they can continue to develop positively through middle and high school.