The mission of LMS with the support of family, community and school partners is to foster intellectual growth, moral excellence, and responsibility, while developing lifelong twenty-first century learners in an environment where all students feel safe and secure.
PARENTS AND STUDENTS
Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year at Lincoln Middle School. It is my sincere hope that this year is one of the most exciting and productive years you have ever had in your brief educational career. This year will bring many changes to our school community with a move to the new Lincoln Middle School set for the middle of the year. This Parent-Student Handbook section of our Agenda was developed for your convenience and is an excellent reference. Although it does not contain everything about LMS, it is an excellent guide for information on a wide range of topics. This handbook will enhance your awareness of opportunities for academic success, extracurricular participation, use of special services and positive ways to communicate with the school staff. Please keep in mind there will be policy changes and adjustments that come along with the move. If you have a question, we encourage you to ask. “Ignorance of the law excuses no man”. John Seldon
Students, LMS is your school. Adults are here to lead and facilitate your learning while assisting you with decisions that impact the school climate. I encourage you to become involved in the activities at your school. Your participation in a variety of activities will make your experiences at LMS more worthwhile. Parents, rarely do students maximize their learning potential when the school and home do not work closely together. The LMS staff is committed to working with you to help your child’s experiences at LMS be positive and academically rewarding. You are encouraged to promptly communicate with LMS staff when you have a question or concern so we can work together to address the situation.
I look forward to sharing this school year with you.
Lori Scott, Principal
ATTENDANCE POLICY: (summation)
ATTEND SCHOOL FAITHFULLY
Lincoln Middle School Attendance/Tardy Policy
In accordance with Harrison County Policy 4502.1 Attendance
“The fundamental right to attend the public school places upon students the accompanying responsibility to be faithful in attendance. Excellent attendance is essential for a student’s successful progress in the instructional program, in proper contribution in citizenship, and in the workplace.”
Students who are absent (excused or unexcused) in whole or part of the day, shall not be permitted to attend any extracurricular event.
In accordance with Harrison County Policy, 4101.8.13. Tardiness
“A student will not fail to be in his/her place of instruction at the assigned time without a valid excuse. Tardiness is a major disruption to the educational process.”
At Lumberport Middle School, the following disciplinary actions will be applied in response to tardiness:
3 unexcused tardies will be recorded as an absence
4 unexcused tardies will result in one day of after school detention
5 unexcused tardies will result in two day of after school detention
Additional tardies may result in a suspension
Any student with any unexcused tardy will not be permitted to participate in any extracurricular activities on the day of the unexcused tardy. Extracurricular activities include: sporting events, practices, plays, dances, etc.
An acceptable excuse for a tardy will be at the discretion of the administration.
Students with unexcused absences or tardies may be prohibited from attending extracurricular and/or special events. This will be at the discretion of the administration.
The most important thing a student does each day academically is to come to school on time! Whenever a student is absent or tardy, a written note signed by the parent or guardian or a doctor’s excuse must be sent to the school within 5 days of the student’s return. Please place these notes in the locked box in front of the secretary’s office. Phone calls are not enough. After 5 absences, the County Attendance Director will be notified. Parents are permitted to turn in 5 notes parent notes per semester.
LMS will notify parents, LMS uses the Parent Link System that will call the homes of students who are absent or tardy each day. If you get a call and believe your child was in school, please call.
The school day ends at 2:42 pm. Students who must leave before 2:42 will need an adult to enter the building and sign them out at the office. If they are leaving with someone other than a parent or guardian, a permission note must be presented or on file at school.
Students who will be riding a different bus or walking or riding in a car with a friend must have a note from the parents of BOTH students! The note must be signed by the office before boarding the bus or leaving the building. This will be strictly enforced.
Parents please try to have plans in place for your child’s dismissal before they leave for school and let them know where they are going at the end of the day. Please do not call the school with instructions as to what your child is to do as it is difficult for us to verify who we are talking to. Changes will not be accepted after 2:00 PM, If you MUST call, please do so before that time!
Every middle school student will be required to take Benchmark tests throughout the school year. For any student who has a 2.0 GPA at the end of the second semester in the class and has not missed more than ten (10) sessions of a class per year regardless of excused reason(s), they will have the options of not taking second semester exam(s). Three (3) unexcused tardies will equal 1 day of absence.
LMS-STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT
BEHAVE IN A MANNER THAT DOES NOT DISRUPT CLASSROOM LEARNING
OR THE OPERATION OF THE SCHOOL.
Your good behavior and your respect for the feelings of others will insure your having the best possible school and learning environment for a successful year.
Students may not use cell phones to call or text home for illness or any other reason! All student phone calls in school must be approved and made through the office! For each child’s security, students are not allowed to call out, nor will they be called to the phone. LMS office personnel will deliver messages when appropriate. Only emergency calls will be made for students. Forgotten homework, uniforms, band instruments, etc., or notes to stay with friends are not emergencies. Please try to take care of these things at home before your child comes to school. Students will not be called to the phone, since we have no way of identifying who is on the other end.
LINCOLN MIDDLE SCHOOL ELECTRONIC DEVICE POLICY
In accordance with Harrison County Discipline Policy 4101.8.12, “All electronic devices, including but not limited to cell phones, electronic games, TV’s radios, walkmans, CD players, portable DVD players, MP3 players and pagers are not permitted to be utilized or visible during the regular school day. No student cell phones or other portable telecommunication devices shall be utilized or visible in school during school hours.”
At Lincoln Middle School if a student is found in violation of this policy
1st Offense: Device will be confiscated
Student will be assigned one day of ISS
Parent/guardian is required to come and pick up device (No earlier than the next school day)
2nd Offense: Device will be confiscated
The discipline policy will be applied accordingly. Parent/guardian is required to come and pick up device. Student is not permitted to bring device back to school
3rd Offense: OSS per violation
• Chewing gum is not allowed.
• Students are expected to exercise discretion in their use of language. “Freakin’, friggin’, and the myriad of variations on this word are not allowed to be used or spoken in this school.
• Students are to use moderation and modesty in their dress:
1. Halter tops, bare midriffs, and mesh shirts are not appropriate. Skater pants, tank tops, and T-strap tops, are not appropriate. Undergarments are not to be exposed. No articles such as chains that could be used as weapons (attached to wallets or worn around the neck) are permitted. Clothing designed to call undue attention or make the wearer conspicuous is inappropriate at school. All clothing must be clean.
2. Shorts and skirts must be mid-thigh length. (Use the fingertip test.)
3. Clothing that advertises drugs, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, sex, skulls, blood, or offensive language is not permitted. Students are not permitted to wear trousers that are so long that they step on them as they walk. This is a safety issue.
4. Pajamas are strictly prohibited.
The entire dress policy should be reviewed, if there are questions, please call the school. Middle school students are, as a whole, distracted by various things including hair color and facial piercings, and they distract us and deter us from our mission to teach students in an educationally sound environment. The piercings in the face also become a safety and health issue for children of this age. These issues will be dealt with on a case by case basis using county policy if they arise. Again, your cooperation is appreciated.
• Students are expected to exercise discretion in the public display of affection.
• Students are not to write in or deface textbooks in any way. If books are damaged, students will be charged a damage fee. If books are lost, the student must pay for replacement.
• Littering is both a civic and personal responsibility. Students are expected to do their part of disposing of litter in containers. This includes disposal of waste in eating areas, classrooms, on field trips or any other extracurricular event.
• "Over the counter” medication must be registered in the office and is NOT to be distributed to other students.
• Students are not to carry food & drinks to class. If you enter in the morning with food or drink it must be consumed in the cafeteria. Students are to keep the cafeteria free of debris and are expected to clean up after themselves.
• Students are not permitted to carry matches or lighters.
• Threats in any manner will be dealt with according to the Harrison County Discipline Policy.
BUS CODE OF CONDUCT
The Driver is in Charge of the Bus and the Riders
1. Stand off roadway while awaiting the bus.
2. Be on time and display orderly conduct at the bus stop.
3. Board and leave the bus at assigned stop locations. Students requesting to ride a different bus must bring a note by a parent or guardian. Approval is dependent upon previous behavior.
4. Wait for driver’s signal before crossing roads.
5. Drivers have the right to assign seats.
6. Keep your seats at all times.
7. Keep all body parts inside the windows.
8. Objects shall not be thrown from the windows.
9. Refrain from loud talking on the bus.
10. Students must listen carefully in the bus room and outside when the bus number is called.
LOCKER RULES and EXPECTATIONS
1. A locker is assigned to each student and the beginning of the school year. The locker remains the property of the school, not the student, and as such, the locker remains under the authority of the school. However, the school is NOT responsible for items stolen from the locker, or any materials left in the locker overnight.
2. A $2.00 locker rental is charged in order to cover locker painting and maintenance.
3. Each locker must have a lock on it. The school will supply the lock. Students are NOT to use their own locks. If a lock is lost or stolen, the student must pay for it before another one will be issued.
4. Outer garments, including hats, are to be kept in lockers and are not to be worn or carried to class.
5. The student is responsible for keeping his/her locker combination private and must not share this information with any other student for any reason.
6. According to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Middle school students do not lose this right. However, school officials have the right to conduct a search of a student’s locker (which remains school property), as long as this right has been announced or published within the school. THIS PARAGRAPH IS THAT ANNOUNCEMENT.
7. Lockers are to be locked at all times.
MAJOR DISCIPLINE OFFENSES AND CONSEQUENCES
• Refrain from aggressive or THREATENING behavior toward fellow students, teachers or other school personnel.
• Fights or disputes between students should be settled through proper channels. The student should notify the teacher on duty or the office. Students engaged in fighting will be suspended from school for five days for the first offense. The second offense will be a ten-day suspension and referral to the Harrison County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The third offense will result in a referral to the superintendent and a possible placement in the Harrison County Transitional School or expulsion from school.
• Students may not have in their possession cigarettes, snuff; chewing tobacco, matches, and / or lighters at any time, they are on school property. This includes ballgames and other extracurricular activities. On the first offense the student will be assigned 1 day of In-School Suspension and the police will be notified. Usually, the magistrate assigns community service to the student. A second offense will result in Out of School Suspension and the police procedure will be repeated.
• Any student caught stealing can result in Out of School Suspension and notification of police.
• Alcohol, drugs, and weapons offenses are Level IV Offenses in both the Harrison County and W. Va. Boards of Education discipline policies. Level IV offenses will result in consideration of Transitional School Placement or expulsion!
• Any student having alcohol or drugs will be suspended from school and reported to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for possible legal action.
• Possession and/or selling of counterfeit drugs are illegal on school property.
• Weapons are not allowed at school. Out of School Suspension and legal action will result.
LINCOLN MIDDLE SCHOOL DISCIPLINE PROCEDURE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE HARRISON COUNTY DISCIPLINE POLICY
School Disciplinary Options:
1. Classroom teacher
2. Team consequences
3. Lunch Detention
4. In School Suspension
5. After School Detention
6. Out of School Suspension
7. Transitional School Placement or Expulsion
NOTE: Any student with multiple infractions of school rules will not be allowed to attend any school/extra activities such as games, dances, field trips, etc.
After School Detention
ASD is an integral part of the disciplinary program in our school. Students are typically assigned ASD for unacceptable conduct, failure to serve detentions, or for attendance problems. Students failing to comply with the terms of ASD understand that their detention will be converted to In or Out of School Suspension.
ISS – In School Suspension
ISS is an alternative to suspending students out of school. It gives students the opportunity to be in school and to complete assignments with a teacher present, and relieves parents from worrying about supervision when children are not in school. However, ISS is not always a substitute for OSS (Out of School Suspension). The decision to assign ISS or OSS is the school administrator’s to make. Also, if a student is unsuccessful in ISS he/she will be assigned to OSS. Please encourage your child to cooperate if he/she gets an ISS assignment. Also, after a couple of ISS assignments, if the behavior is not modified, we will move to OSS.
Student Arrival at School
When a student arrives at school he/she should report to the following locations: cafeteria if eating breakfast, and all other students to the gym. If one enters in the morning with food or drink it must be consumed in the cafeteria.
Care of the Building -- and Restrooms
Everyone should take pride in our school building and the school grounds outside and do everything that you can do to keep it clean and attractive. Students are expected to pick up paper and litter from the classroom and hallway floors at the end of each class period and in the cafeteria at breakfast and at lunch.
All students are to refrain from throwing, scuffling, or rowdy conduct at all school activities. Remember that you are a self-respecting young man or woman and that you represent this school and student body of which you should be proud. Your conduct reflects credit or discredit to your home, to your school, and to your community.
The school cafeteria is operated for the convenience of the students. Students are to enter the cafeteria in an orderly fashion as directed by their teachers. Talking in the cafeteria must be kept to a normal conversation level. Misconduct in the cafeteria will result in detention or suspension. Students must clean up after themselves in ALL areas of the building, especially the cafeteria.
Fire & Emergency Drills
From time to time, through the year, fire drills and emergency drills are held. Fire drill instructions are posted in each classroom. Students are to quietly and quickly follow all directions given by teachers or other school personnel.
Counseling and testing are the primary guidance services. Counseling is a student and counselor relationship in which the student has the freedom to express his/her ideals and feelings and seek advice.
Illness of Students
If students become ill at school, they are to report to their assigned teacher, and then to the office. Parents will be notified whenever necessary. Calls to parents will be made from the office.
All medication must be brought to the office and a medication form completed. Please send a note explaining when and how the medication is to be given. According to state law, medication must be in its original container.
All students have access to our library at their convenience. Books are checked out to the students. When a book is checked out, it becomes the responsibility of the student. The student must return the book on time or pay a small fine. If a book is lost, the student is responsible for paying for the book.
Band and Choir
Students and parents need to understand that band and choir are academic classes and cannot be dropped whenever a student wishes. County policy will be followed regarding changing schedules. If you enroll in band or choir, be prepared to be there all year!
Lost and Found and Personal Property
Found articles should be turned in to the secretary’s office OR PLACED IN Lost & Found near the cafeteria. Students losing or leaving articles should first look where they have been and then check with the office. We have a lost & found rack & box near the cafeteria. We usually donate items to charity 3-4 times per year if not reclaimed. Do not leave any valuables in your locker. Coats, book bags, band instruments, and other articles of value should be labeled. It is best not to bring anything of value, especially large amounts of money to school.
LMS prohibits the writing of graffiti on any items including notebooks, books, agendas, binders, clothing, homework, or any other object that is brought to school. Vandalism is a punishable offense and will be dealt with severely. Students engaged in vandalism will be suspended and can be subject to criminal prosecution.
Parents and the business community are encouraged to visit our school. For the safety and security of our students and staff, we require all visitors to “check-in” and register at the front office and receive a Visitor’s Badge. Students are not permitted to bring relatives or other peer guests to accompany them to school, unless prior administrative permission has been granted. Due to the distracting nature of student visits, permission is rarely granted.
If the weather is such that it is necessary to cancel school, the announcement will be made by television and all radio stations, as early as possible. Also, early dismissals will be announced on TV and radio. Parents will also be notified with a phone call through the Parent Link System. It is imperative that we have an accurate phone number.
“School Insurance” is being provided for all students through the Harrison County BOE excess levy this year, and it covers athletics.
Any accident in the school building, on school grounds, or at school-sponsored activity must be brought to the school authorities or school office immediately. The proper reports must be completed in a timely manner.
Make up Work
Students are required to complete work missed during an absence. The policy states an equal number of days to complete the work missed as to the number of days the student was absent, and the return day is counted only as a get assignment day. Make-up work timeline begins upon return to school. Work not turned in by the timeline will be entered as a zero in the grade book. Make-up tests will be scheduled by the teacher and do not have to meet the timeline for written homework or class assignments.
Make-up work will not be gathered by a teacher for the absent student until the third consecutive day of absence.
Homework is assigned as review or practice of what has already been taught. Question the teacher during class time if you do not understand. Homework not turned in is averaged as a zero for you final homework grade.
• An assembly is not an athletic event: No screaming, whistling, cheering or other outbursts.
• Enter and exit silently.
• Sit silently until the program begins.
• Sit up & BE ATTENTIVE, BE RESPECTFULL. No slouching or sleeping, ever.
• Remain silent during breaks.
• Wait to be dismissed.
• Any teacher not on individual planning time will be in the auditorium.
• Teachers will remain in the auditorium. PLAN to be there. Don’t use this time to conduct other business.
• Teachers will sit or stand with your class. If you choose to stand, stand on the side or in the aisles where you can see your students, and they can see you. Some teachers should be in front of the assembly.
• Identify those students likely to make trouble or not be attentive, and have them closest to you, whether you are sitting or standing.
• Don’t stand in the back of the auditorium or balcony.
• Be assertive and correct undesirable behaviors immediately.
At every change of class, each student is expected to follow the LMS traffic pattern -- single file and on the right side of the hall. Students are NOT permitted to cross grade level hallways. Running is NOT permitted at any time.
• LMS dances are for dancing and socializing, no horseplay will be tolerated.
• Dances are for LMS students only.
• Rides home must be here when the dance ends.
• No students will be dismissed before the end of the dance unless a parent signs them out.
When a student has a doctor’s appointment, he/she must bring a note from the parent to the office before first period stating the time he/she needs to leave school. The student will then be given a pass to be dismissed from class to report to the office by the assistant principal. Parents are to pick up the student in the office and sign the student out. When returning to school following the appointment, the parent must sign the student back in at the office and the student will be issued an admittance slip back to class.
Students Late for School
All students late for school must always report to the office to sign-in and get an admit slip. Students should have a written excuse from a parent stating the reason for being late. The admit slip is given to the teacher’s class they enter for their signature. Chronic or habitual tardiness will be dealt with as a discipline issue. According to County Policy, 3 tardies equals one absence for exams at the end of the year.
During the course of the school year various school organizations will sponsor fundraisers. Student participation in these is voluntary. All funds raised during these events will be spent on bettering the educational experiences of the students. Only fundraisers approved by the principal will be permitted.
Teachers will send home progress reports at the mid part of the grading period indicating what the grade would be at that time, plus a brief summary on conduct. Parents are encouraged to monitor kids’ grades using Live Grades.
Home football games at Lincoln Field
LMS students will not loiter behind the bleachers at a home football game. LMS students will sit in the bleachers and enjoy the game. This rule will be enforced by the administration and a security guard at each game.
LMS students are given special recognition for excellence in scholarship and service. Certificates of merit are given to acknowledge student achievements in particular subjects or upon completion of projects.
At every class change, each student is expected to walk on the right in a single file. There is to be absolutely no running and the noise is to kept to a minimum. Students are not permitted to run at any time at LMS, except for in the gymnasium when appropriate.
RESPONSIBLE STUDENTS THROUGH SCHOOLWIDE POSITIVE BEHAVIOR SUPPORTS
Our Positive Behavior Support Program is a research based, proactive systems approach to preventing and responding to classroom and school discipline problems. The program focuses improving schools’ positive behavior of all students. Emphasis is directed toward developing and maintaining safe learning environments where teachers can teach and students can learn. Expectations will be taught to all students the first week of school and the expectations will be consistent throughout all grade levels, classes, and common areas. We will reteach the expectations as necessary.
Guidelines were established for the following common areas based expectations: bus room, lunchroom, auditorium, bathrooms and hallways.
The PBS program is supported by a series of weekly incentives and some long term incentives and positive behavior supports which will be communicated to students by their classroom and AA teachers.
LMS EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY PARTICIPATION POLICY
In accordance with the Harrison County Student Code of Conduct and Discipline policy, Lincoln Middle School students must adhere to the following:
Any Lumberport Middle School student who is tardy to school, leaves early or is absent from school shall not participate in any extracurricular activity the day of the event, unless a doctor’s excuse is provided. Furthermore, in alignment with the LMS Positive Behavior Support Program, the responsibility to notify the coach/sponsor lies with the student. Any student who is tardy to school or leaves early and participates without telling his coach will then be suspended for 2 games.
• Students who serve ISS or ASD the day of any extracurricular activity will not be permitted to participate.
• Tardiness and Truancy are both defined as Level I violations:
• 4101.7.13. Tardiness. A student will not fail to be in his/her place of instruction at the assigned time without a valid excuse.
• 4101.7.17. Truancy. In accordance with West Virginia §126CSR81, West Virginia Board of Education Policy 4110, Attendance, a student will not fail to report to the school’s assigned class or activity without prior permission, knowledge or excuse by the school or by the parent/guardian.
• 4101.8.2. Level I Disciplinary Options. Violation of any Level I offense may result in any of the following responses from the school administration:
These disciplinary actions are not limited to but include:
Denial of participation in school-wide activities.
Withdrawal of privileges.
LMS ATHLETIC PARTICIPATION
Participation in athletics at LMS is a privilege. Wearing any LMS uniform makes a student a representative of our school. Student athletes routinely travel to other schools in and around Harrison County with often only one coach to supervise a large group. We want only those students who demonstrate an ability to act in a responsible and mature manner to represent LMS. Any student’s classroom behavior, academic performance, and general conduct will affect his or her opportunity to be on a team. Athletes are expected to be examples to other students in their behavior and responsibility in school. Failure to meet these standards may prevent a student from being chosen to a team, or may result in a student being suspended or removed from a team.
All students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be eligible to participate in athletics. The preceding semester will determine eligibility. If an athlete’s GPA drops below a 2.0, the athlete will immediately be ineligible and immediately cease participation in athletics. Athletes must pass a physical exam and bring the completed WVSSAC approved forms prior to the first tryout. No student may try out for any sport without the physical forms having been turned in. This includes dance line and cheerleading. Insurance coverage will be provided through the HCBOE excess levy, and covers athletic participation.
In addition, athletes must remember the following rules. All LMS athletes:
• must arrive in school on time and be present all day to participate in practice or a game on any day. A note from a doctor or dentist, etc. is required to waive this rule, and the A.D. or a principal will make the decision. A note from home is not acceptable. Our instructional day runs until 2:42 pm. Only occasionally will students be dismissed for games earlier that that time, and that will be at the school administrator’s discretion. Students signed out before 2:42 will not be eligible to play in the game or meet that day.
• are expected to sign and uphold the LMS Athletic Contract.
• are expected to keep their academic work up to at least the level achieved before they joined the team.
• are responsible for all work assigned any time they miss a class for an athletic event. It is the athlete's responsibility to get assignments in advance of their absence.
• are expected to attend all practices and games or notify their coach in advance of absences.
• are expected to follow all school and team rules when they are in uniform or representing LMS.
• are not permitted to participate, in any capacity, with an AAU or travel team of the same sport while a member of any LMS team.
• are to refrain from any tobacco, alcohol, or drug use at all times.
• are to understand that no type of “hazing” or “initiation” will be tolerated. Any verbal or physical acts of this nature will be dealt with through the Harrison County Schools Discipline Policy and the LMS Discipline Policy.
• are expected to be respectful to their coach, their opponent's coach, their opponent, and the game officials at all times.
• are expected to practice good sportsmanship on and off the field or court. At no time will athletes taunt an opponent, an official, or coach. At no time will athletes behave in a manner that would "show up" an official or opponent, i.e. pounding walls or floors, questioning, taunting, etc.
• are not to question officials without direction from their coach. Questions will be addressed to LMS coaches and they will address the official, or instruct the athlete, at the coach's discretion.
• are expected to wear an LMS uniform for each game. Coaches will decide about accessories such as socks, undershirts, etc.
• are expected to be successful in the PBS program
• are expected to care for their uniform as suggested on the label on the uniform. Uniforms should be carried to and from the game. They are not to be worn under clothes or away from games. They are not to be worn in restaurants or other places after game activities or as play or casual clothes. They should not be worn to school without the coach’s direction.
WVDE, WVSSAC, and HCBOE Policy all prohibit releasing students early from the instructional day at school to participate in athletic contests. At LMS the instructional day runs until 2:42 pm. Our practice at LMS is to follow all county, state, and SSAC policies. I have and do on occasion bend this rule slightly by allowing student-athletes to be picked up by their parents at 2:30 pm on game days, if necessary, so they can get away from LMS before being delayed by the buses at the end of the day. Those student-athletes who leave earlier than 2:30 on those designated days without a doctor/dentist note and appointment will not be allowed to participate in the contest on that day. We will send a list to you at the meet or game if necessary.
Computerized report cards are given students to take home about one week after the end of the 9-week period, except for the last report card of the year which will be mailed.
LMS will offer online grading, Live Grades for the convenience of our parents and students. If you have an email address it will be utilized for the online grading program. This will allow the school to send announcement, bulletins, and grade updates.
LMS posts all activities on an online calendar at www.calendarwiz.com/lmseagles. Please check the calendar often to view scheduled events and any changes.
SCHOOL WEB PAGE
The school webpage can be found at http://www.harcoboe.net/LincolnMiddleSchool/page/home
This agenda is your hall pass and to be dismissed from class you MUST have your agenda. This agenda is to be treated as a textbook and will cost $5.00 to replace.
The student was extremely upset. He had forgotten his school planner and, as per school policy, he had been issued with a yellow slip. This yellow slip was his non-negotiable invite to an after-school detention.
Great, you might think – he realises the consequences of his actions.
His upset was caused not by the detention, but by the fact that this detention directly clashed with another one. In fact, on further questioning, it transpired that the first available slot he had for a detention was midway through the following week.
He was distressed because he was struggling to work out the logistics of being everywhere he was supposed to be, keeping all the teachers happy.
Confused, I asked him why he simply did not try to behave and thus avoid the problem.
“It’s just the part of the school day now where I get to complete my homework,” he responded.
The detentions were no longer a deterrent.
As part of the school leadership team, this was not what we were expecting. We thought our approach had been working; we had even considered a Saturday-morning session to manage the overflow.
A zero-tolerance approach to all aspects of behaviour – including punctuality, the wearing of correct uniform and the bringing of the right equipment to class – was at the heart of our drive to improve standards. But suddenly it seemed that this approach might not be working.
The more I thought about it, the more I saw the symptoms of the problem. I noticed the growing overreliance on detention in primary and secondary schools. I realised the hideously complicated nature of multiple levels of leadership, each having bespoke detention times, durations, formats and days. I witnessed how students often now saw detention as less of a deterrent and more of a social occasion.
Screams of delight
Here’s an example that sums up the latter problem. I visited a secondary school where a large group of students gathered around a doorway in which hung a number of A3 documents, each with a list of students who were due in for detention that afternoon. Students excitedly compared lists and some screamed with delight after finding out that they were due to attend the same detention.
Upon following one of these students as they skipped down the corridor to one of the many detention rooms, it became clear that during the session, no opportunity to discuss or reflect on the reason why they were in detention was given.
Staff members were on a rota to facilitate the detentions and they used the time to mark their books, further removing any opportunity for the member of staff to undertake any form of restorative work.
The detention was purely meant to be an irritant to the student – a way to waste their time in the hope of discouraging them from a repeat offence. As soon as the students decided that time wasted was simply another part of the school day to be endured, it was no longer an effective sanction. Make the detention a Saturday, and if you change nothing about what happens on that detention, you get the same result.
So, should we scrap detention? No, but what we must do is strive for them to be more than just a holding pen.
There is no common approach to the use of detentions, no set guidelines or reporting requirements. As such, schools are given free rein to develop their own systems. I took it upon myself to look at schools in which detention seemed to result in real behavioural changes to see if there were any common elements that we should all be incorporating.
What I discovered, having reviewed a number of detention systems, is that the most effective:
• Are clear and simple with no overcomplicated tiered routes of format, duration or staff facilitator.
• Ensure the onus is upon the teacher setting the detention to facilitate the detention.
• Ensure parents are involved in the system and, where possible, collect the student from the detention in order to provide dialogue between the teacher and parent.
• Use the time for the teacher to unpick the incident with the student and look at how it could be avoided in the future.
• Analyse the number of detentions that are taking place at teacher, year group, faculty and SLT level, to assess where additional behaviour-management support may be needed.
Additionally, a detention system that allows staff to develop bespoke formats to suit the particular needs of the student increases the likelihood that the detention will have the intended effect.
I have seen schools in which social stories have been used with students who have been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder, to support their reflection on their behaviour. I have also seen approaches in which students in detention have undertaken tasks with the site teams to develop the school site. I am not referring to archaic activities such as litter picking, but positive activities where a sense of personal pride is developed and new skills learned. Such approaches are meaningful and have an underlying purpose.
I guess the most controversial among these suggestions will be that a teacher facilitates their own detentions. While I am aware that, as teachers, we have any number of pressures and deadlines to work under and work to, I am certain that the class teacher who dealt with the initial incident and sanctioned the detention must be the teacher who is then in charge of it.
Without this personal approach, there is a tendency for staff to use the detention as the default method of sanctioning for poor classroom behaviour. In addition, the sanction becomes faceless and ultimately meaningless: often the student sat in the detention doesn’t link the detention with the incident, classroom and teacher. And finally, this would better facilitate reflection and discussion about the behaviour.
This is all, of course, based on the assumption that a school wishes to prioritise the use of detention over more proactive and arguably more worthwhile responses to poor behaviour, such as reflective conversations conducted immediately after a lesson or engagement with parents and carers.
But if detentions must happen, a more personalised approach – with individual staff taking charge of facilitating their detention and ensuring that reflection and any needed reparation takes place – will increase the likelihood of long-term change. That’s what the whole point of a detention is, right?
As a school, we reflected long and hard about our approach to detention. We decided that we needed to put the onus upon teaching staff to facilitate their own detentions. While of course there were a few concerns raised regarding additional workload, most staff also saw the benefit in being able to administer the detentions quickly without jumping through any number of hoops. It was made clear to them that the focus during the detention must be on positive engagement and a reflection upon the reason for the detention. Thankfully, so far, it seems to have worked.
Simon Pearse is academic coach (behaviour) for Greenwood Academies Trust