RCSD teachers say discipline is still a serious problem


Disruptive, disrespectful, and violent student behavior is a serious problem in some city schools, say some teachers I've spoken to recently.

Poor student behavior and meaningful discipline has been a problem in some city schools for years. The problem was so serious that it resulted in an overuse of suspensions: thousands of students were sent home for both short and long-term suspensions.

Former Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard introduced in-house suspensions as a way to curb the significant amount of instruction time students were missing as a result of suspension. The approach nearly caused a revolt among teachers when it was first introduced several years ago. And even though adjustments were made, in-house suspensions continue to be a problem, many teachers say.

“They [students] get sent to one of these rooms and you may have a second grader sitting next to an eighth grader,” a teacher complained. “It just doesn’t work.”

And several teachers said there are few problems that concern parents more than worries about student safety and spending classroom dealing with disruptive behavior.

The New York State Education Department’s Violent Incident Report was last issued for the 2010 to 2011 school year, and the data supports the teachers’ concerns at some schools.

During the 2010 to 2011 school year, East High reported having two assaults without a weapon, 49 altercations, 82 disruptions, 18 weapons found through screening, and one riot. And Wilson Magnet High School reported seven weapons found through screening, and more than 500 disruptions.

The stakes for teachers now are higher than they were then, however, because of the new teacher evaluations. Student behavior problems can have a direct impact on a teacher’s evaluation.

The district is in the process of conducting its own internal audit involving student behavior and suspensions, which could shine new light on the issue. But some teachers say they doubt it will make a difference.