Madison School District behavior plan updates would push for more alternatives to suspension

Scott Girard:

After a larger overhaul a year ago, proposed updates to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Behavior Education Plan for this fall would focus on “tweaks” to language and creating more alternatives to suspensions.

The updates, presented to the School Board Monday night at its Instruction Work Group meeting, would add new language related to drugs, physical contact and inappropriate language.

“This is a narrow proposal that we have in front of you,” said MMSD coordinator of progressive discipline Bryn Martyna. “We also want to make sure that the written policy is still up to date and current with what the board wants and what the board intended when you all passed the last version of it.”

The smaller-scale changes are a continuation of the annual updating process. The BEP outlines various behaviors and the responses, which vary from level 1 — classroom managed, not recorded in Infinite Campus — to level 5 — long-term removal from school, including potential expulsion.

The plan has been controversial since it was created in 2014 under former Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Some blame the BEP for a lack of discipline among students, and others say they support the plan’s ideals but question whether the district has done enough to help teachers implement it.

The latest proposal, which the board is expected to vote on at its May 18 meeting, would add using an electronic smoking device to the list of behaviors for which the district offers alternatives to suspension like restorative circles. The BEP lists other specific behaviors that schools are required or encouraged to develop alternatives to suspension for, but the update would add language encouraging such alternatives to be explored for “any other behaviors” that are not specifically listed.

Much more on the Madison School District’s behavior education plan, here.

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