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MISSION — Sharyland district officials this week questioned disciplinarian action programs for students, asking if there were better ways to help punish students without giving them a criminal record.
According to the student handbook, placement in the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) is mandatory or discretionary depending on the conduct of the student. Some actions also require the action of the local police.
“I think we are criminalizing kids for stuff that we might have gotten away with when we were kids and giving them a criminal record,” said Trustee Fred Ramirez. “I don’t know that that’s in the best interest of our kids.”
Ramirez said he talked to the municipal court judge in Mission asking him what could be done for first offense kids that get into trouble.
“I know that there’s laws and all of this, but at what point are we hurting the kid more than we’re helping the kid,” Ramirez asked the board.
SISD assigned 150 students to DAEP from August 2009 to February 2011. These students are separated from the rest of the student body and are divided by grade level.
Ramirez said he understood repetitive offenders being put in DAEP, but said the district should take more action by giving students more support and counseling instead of putting the student straight into DAEP.
“Are we providing what our mission statement states,” Ramirez asked. “Are we going to provide every child with the best education to his capabilities?”
Sharyland High School Principal Diamantina Chapa said success comes from the board by providing the proper elements to the schools.
Ramirez said proper assessment of the student needs to be done before they are placed into DAEP, adding that there needs to be a committee.
The board agreed there was no real problem with the program, but procedures are lacking.
There needs to be an incentive to get students out of DAEP, or a juvenile detention facility, as soon as possible and maybe receive half the term for good behavior, said Ramirez.
Students placed in the DAEP program could serve as little as 40 days to the full school year. Elementary students receive less time.
“What can we do to make this program better? How do we make this an environment so the kids never want to come back” Ramirez asked.
Ramirez recommended forming a DAEP committee to have two teachers that know the student, a couple of administrators and maybe a parent or someone from the community to conduct a proper investigation before the child goes into DAEP. He also suggested the committee monitor the student’s progress.
The board and administrators in attendance agreed they want to be more active in these students’ lives to find the best solution for each student.
Another program called Bridge was also discussed. The Bridge Program is an intervention program that a student with substance abuse problems agrees to participate in. Officials said it is a nurturing environment that includes group and individual counseling, weekly Palmer Drug Abuse Program meetings and community service. Administrators said Bridge has a high success rate.
Students will be assessed to see which program, DAEP or Bridge, is more appropriate for them. If the student is deemed a candidate, the student will have to agree to be enrolled in the program. The program will be housed in a separate building on the high school campus. Students will continue to receive core curriculum. The program is 45 days long.
The board approved the development of a committee to assess students before going into DAEP and a full-time counselor. The counselor would assist with the Bridge and DAEP programs.
In other action at this week’s meeting, trustees approved several expenditures related to curriculum and instruction.
The school board approved to hire two additional special education teachers and eliminate three paraprofessionals positions. The special education teachers are needed to help with the growing number of special needs students in the district. By eliminating three paraprofessional positions, hiring the two teachers would only cost the district $37,000 versus $100,000.
The board also approved to continue with the C-Scope Curriculum for just over $70,000. The district began participating with C-Scope in the 2006-2007 school year and has been implementing it since the 2007-2008 school year.
Dr. Melissa Martinez, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the program would keep the curriculum more rigorous.
“C-Scope will be able to start to connect the essential knowledge and skills and provide guidance for the teachers in regards to readiness standards, the supporting standards and differences in regards to the instruction in the classroom, which looks at focus, clarity and depth,” said Martinez adding that C-Scope will keep teachers aligned with each other and ready for a new assessment test.
Trustees also approved a $88,400 two-day summer training session.
Superintendent Scott Owings said the training is done annually, but is necessary to address the new assessment test.
The training would show teachers a new rigorous framework with 17 strategies they could use in the classroom. Campus leadership teams would also be trained on how to coach teachers.
Martinez added that a summer training would keep teachers in the classroom, versus having to be pulled out to go to training and paying a substitute.
“We have to get ready and get all these teachers ready for this test,” said Owings.
Martinez said about $50,000 of the curriculum budget is spent on training annually. The cost for this training would not be considered an additional cost; it would reallocate the training expenditures for this.
SISD will probably be used as a model for surrounding districts, said Martinez. The district received a discount with that assumption.
“Most people look at Sharyland and want to see what we’re doing,” she said.
Board members want to make sure the training is effective by using a survey and constant monitoring.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.