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Education

OKCPS Board Approves New Discipline Plan

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Emily Wendler / KOSU
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The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education in session on August 10, 2015.

Students who get suspended in the Oklahoma City Public School district will now have an option: take the suspension and go home or go through a 10-day remedial program.

In the program, teachers will help the kids keep up with their work, as they go through character development classes and counseling.

“And so, instead of just sending them home, to sit at home, let’s keep ‘em in school, keep up with their academics, and then also teach ‘em some skills that they need to learn,” said Dr. Teri Bell, the district’s executive director of student support services.

The district is partnering with both the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma City and the Latino Community Development Agency to deliver this program.

If a student gets a short-term suspension—10-days or less—the program will be optional. School counselors and principals will present it to the parents as an alternative to the suspension. But the program is 10-days long, even if the student got suspended for just five days. Bell said that is just how long the program lasts. 

If a student gets a much longer suspension—10 days or more—the program will be strongly recommended to the parents, and the child can reduce the length of their suspension by going through the program.

'Like A Plane Being Built Mid-Flight'

The Oklahoma City Public School Board approved the new plan at Monday night’s meeting, but Superintendent Rob Neu says it's 'like a plane being built mid-flight.' He said school is a month in and students are already being suspended. Neu said they needed a proactive plan, and they needed it quickly.

The district's suspension rates have been under the scrutiny of the Office for Civil Rights, and an internal audit revealed the district has been suspending students at extremely high rates over the past few years. The board hopes this new approach to discipline is a positive and proactive one.

Bell said they’ll collect data to see if the program helps students improve their grades and attendance.

Bell also told the Board that the district has reduced the rate of suspensions by 63 percent in comparison to this time last year.

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