HHS out-of-school suspensions almost triple
Last Thursday night at the Christian County Public Schools’ board meeting, Director of Pupil Personnel Melanie Barrett and Director of Alternative Programs Kim Stevenson presented the school board with discipline data from the 2018-2019 school year.
District wide, in-school suspensions rose from 29.8% to 32.1% from the previous school year for African-American students and from 12.9% to 13.3% for Caucasian students, according to the report. District wide, total suspensions — including in-school and out-of-school — the rate dropped for Caucasian students from 4.9% to 3.7% and rose from 11.2% to 11.7% for African-American students.
At Hopkinsville High School, the percentage of African-American students suspended in school was reduced from 59.5% to 56.5%. For Caucasian students, that number also decreased from 26.5% to 24%.
For Christian County High School, in-school suspensions increased for both African-American students and Caucasian students from 17% to 22.4% and 38.5% to 44.6%, respectively.
Last school year, administrators across the district were tasked with implementing the Positive Behavior Instructional Supports system. The PBIS system implements comprehensive classroom and school-wide management that places standardized behavior expectations for all students. The expectation of PBIS is to intevene in problem behavior with students while also keeping the students in the classroom.
However, out-of-school suspensions at CCHS increased from 18.6% to 20% for African-American students and decreased from 11.7% to 10.5% for Caucasian students during the 2018-2019 school year.
Hopkinsville High School out-of-school suspensions for Caucasian students tripled from 5% to 16.8% and nearly doubled for African-American students, from 13.9% to 32.5%.
Barrett told the school board that schools have been and will be completely implementing Tier II of PBIS in the upcoming school year.
According to the PBIS website, Tier I attention is focused on creating and sustaining behavior expectations for all students, while Tier II works on group support for students who are in trouble more often.
Currently all schools, disctrict-wide are at 100% compliance with Tier I and 75% of schools are at Tier II compliance, Barrett noted.
“Once Tier 2 (of PBIS) is fully implemented we should see an evident decrease in discipline,” she said.
Tom Bell, District 5 school board member, brought up the gap at HHS concerning the large uptick of out-of-school suspensions during the meeting.
“I know that they (HHS) have put structures in place for PBIS,” Barrett said, noting that last school year was the first year under Principal Dr. John Gunn and that his administration was working on building the PBIS structure during the school year.
“I expect better,” she said of the upcoming year.
Bell asked if HHS could put more measures in place other than PBIS to bring down the suspension rates.
“Are we making more frequent visits, do we have more coaching … ,” he asked.
Barrett said the district will be giving the PBIS administrators data monthly, to keep communication open throughout the entire district.
Stevenson told the board that currently both high schools and the two middle schools are not in complete compliance with Tier II of PBIS.
“I think that’s part of issue that Mr. Bell was bringing up,” said district attorney Jack Lackey. “And the truth is Tier I wasn’t even implemented at one of the high schools the year before, is that correct?”
Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill said that was correct.
“Last year (2017-2018) there was not (Tier I),” said Stevenson. “They had to start it from scratch again.”
Gemmill said the 2018-2019 school year was the “base year” for that high school, although no one in the room specified which school that was.
Reach Jon Russelburg at email@example.com.