UPSB considers tougher discipline policy

By Luke Britt
Editor
The Union Parish School Board is considering stiffening the penalties for fighting at school following a policy review that was initiated in the wake of a September fight involving several students.
On Monday, Superintendent Kristy Fine presented the UPSB Discipline Committee with a tentative outline of the proposed policy, but the committee put off a formal vote on the new policy while they continue to investigate how other school districts are responding to a post-pandemic spike in discipline issues.
According to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics, 84 percent of public schools nationwide have reported an increase in disruptive behavior by students since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key aspects of the new policy include:

  1. A first offense will result in a 10-day suspension and may include arrest if the incident involves extenuating circumstances.
  2. A second offense will result in a 10-day suspension and a minimum of 45-days attending the Union Parish Alternative School. Penalties may include arrest if extenuating circumstances are involved.
  3. A third offense will result in a 10-day suspension and a minimum of 90-days at the Union Parish Alternative School. Penalties may include arrest if extenuating circumstances are involved.
    The proposed policy defines extenuating circumstances as:
  • Fighting that causes bodily harm to another student or school employee.
  • A school employee is struck in any way, including pushing.
  • The fight involves three or more students.
  • If any object is used as a weapon during the fight.
  • A fight that causes a “major disruption of the school environment”
  • A fight that occurs after school personnel have attempted to avoid a possible fight by counseling students and/or contacting those students’ parents.
    When discussing the new policy, Discipline Committee members agreed that violence of any kind directed at staff or faculty should result in the harshest possible punishment.
    Also during the meeting, it was announced that new cameras have been installed in throughout the high school to aid in investigating incidents of all kinds, including fights.
    In Other Business
    The UPSB also met for its regular monthly meeting Monday, and Superintendent Fine informed the Board that the Louisiana Department of Education has allocated $1 million to establish a Center for Effective Transition in Union Parish.
    The Board also voted to approve the purchase of a Bluebird mini-bus to provide transportation services for the district’s special needs students. The $98,490 cost of the van will be paid for by the state’s Medicaid program.

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