Schools try new ways to handle discipline problems

June 13, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

A Saturday-school program for students who get into fights.

A family literacy course where parents come to elementary schools to read with their children.

Those are just two projects that will be developed during the summer for next year, as schools look for ways to prevent and curb discipline problems, said Larry Norris, a member of a countywide committee exploring ways to help teachers manage classroom problems.

He also served on the School Discipline Study Committee, which just released a hefty report with recommendations. Many of the proposals outlined alternative ways for teachers and other staff members to engage problem students.

Already, several schools have started "time-out" rooms. Instead of sending students to the principal for a reprimand, a teacher can put them in the time-out room, staffed by a teacher. Students complete a packet explaining why they disrupted class and why they should behave better. Then they turn their attention to catching up on class work.

"That way you have the instructional staff taking charge of the educational issue," Mr. Norris said. "When it's teacher-driven, it's more successful."

The time-out method removes the disruptive student from class so that others can keep working and gives the student a chance to reflect on the bad behavior as well as catch up with work, Mr. Norris said.

Mr. Norris also runs the Alternative Program, a satellite school at the Air Business Park in Westminster. Students are sent there because they are not succeeding in a regular school setting or because they were removed from their school for a serious offense or chronic truancy.

The county already has a Saturday School program for three problems: truancy, chronic classroom disruption, and smoking and drugs.

Peter B. McDowell, director of secondary education, said the staff is working on a fourth program for students who are violent.

The Saturday School program is held at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center, and principals from across the county refer students.

Mr. Norris said some schools are considering starting their own Saturday programs to keep students close to the schools and to manage problems within their buildings.

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