Pushing for policy change: EVSC educators discuss unruly student behavior

Pushing for policy change: EVSC educators discuss unruly student behavior

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Evansville Vanderburgh School Cooperation has a school-wide footprint behavior management plan. It’s called “Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports” or PBIS.

It teaches positively reinforcing good behavior, and district administrators said they’ve seen beneficial outcomes on the local level, but some argue the model needs to be modified.

PBIS is supposed to create positive and safe learning environments.

“I have witnessed teachers being hit, kicked, bitten, scratched and spat upon. I’ve seen classrooms destroyed and large heavy objects thrown at staff and students. I’ve never experienced this level of misbehavior in my over 30 years of EVSC service.”

Those words were written anonymously by an EVSC educator and presented to the board Monday night regarding student behavior. It was one of three examples given.

A second example read: “I have given up that anything will change. Ever. Zero hope. Trying to tell myself I can make it until December, but I don’t know if I can.”

PBIS focuses on teaching expected behaviors and responding in positive and pro-active ways to increase behavior in schools.

"I’m pretty sure that my former students who launched a chair across the classroom, cussed out other students, and destroyed school property didn’t do it because they didn’t understand my expectations,” a former EVSC teacher who said she resigned told the board.

School district leaders said that building a safe learning environment for all students is fundamental to learning, and has helped with improved attendance, engagement, and better school climate.

“When you have a student that is challenging, and we can have some really challenging students at times, it can seem it is PBIS fault and that one student or two students that are having challenges aren’t really specific to PBIS,” Susan Phelps, Director of Neuroeducation explained.

She added consequences are a continued component, although some say they’re not strong enough.

“By teachers creating this positive environment, you think it would create better behavior, right? Think about following the driving laws. You’re asked ‘please don’t speed.’ Would it make you drive slower? No, you’re given a ticket… a consequence.”

Evansville Teachers Association was also represented at the meeting.

They said they would welcome the opportunity to work with the school board and administration on student discipline.

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