Two virtual workshops gave families and stakeholders the opportunity to learn more about the district’s goal and support plan to eliminate suspensions in the 2021–2022 school year, while still having any serious infraction go through the disciplinary alternative education program.
Dallas ISD and campus leaders at the virtual workshops on May 18 and 20 discussed how the district will fund a Reset Center Coordinator for all 52 comprehensive middle and high schools. The coordinator will work with students who might, in the past, behave in a way that would lead to an out-of-school suspension. Each comprehensive middle and high school will also receive resources for a Reset Center, a dedicated space for the coordinator to work with these students, while still keeping them engaged in their schoolwork and learning.
“This is going to be an opportunity for students to learn how to self-regulate and self-govern their behaviors, which is really what we want them to take ownership of,” said Jonathan C. Smith, David W. Carter High School principal. “We believe that discipline is not about being punitive, but it’s about teaching. This is exactly what our students need and deserve.”
District officials have been meeting with principals, teachers, parents, students, and community groups to rethink out-of-school suspensions. The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees in 2017 eliminated out-of-school suspensions for students in grades PK – 2. This work will now expand to all grade levels and both in-school and out-of-school suspensions.
“We’re excited about the Reset Center because it gives us an opportunity for the child who needs to go and reflect, to come up with a plan to reset,” said Sharron E. Jackson, Oliver W. Holmes Middle School Humanities/Communications Academy principal. “And what are they resetting? They are resetting the high expectations that we have to become community problem solvers. We do a lot of listening, and every child is different.”
The district is also looking to train teachers and staff on best social and emotional learning practices and conflict resolution, while increasing access to counseling and mental health services. In addition, the lessons learned from the use of technology during the pandemic will allow students to stay engaged with their teachers and to access behavior management and SEL lessons.
“All behavior is communication,” said Jesus Martinez, Seagoville Middle School principal. “What are our young people trying to tell us? What are they trying to communicate with their behaviors or misbehaviors?”