Fix School Discipline Toolkit for Educators - Page 25

now at Garfield High School is student academic achievement. Our teachers and staff believe that our students can achieve academically. We raised our API scores 115 points in the last four years. Our students believe in themselves and feel confident that they can compete academically with any high school in our district. Additionally, when I hire teachers and administrators, it is critical that they can connect with the students; we are staffed with great people who care about and respect our students. Because of all of the work we have done since 2009 engaging the parents and the community around us, we don’t have the safety issues that we used to have outside of the school. For instance, we don’t have a gang problem anymore; the students don’t even dress the part because we have made it clear to them that Garfield HS is an institution for learning and not for mischief. It is about making everyone accountable for their actions. Many parents in the community support me on this and help me monitor student behavior and dress code. Ruiz: In 2010-2011, there was one suspension that was mandatory because a student brought a knife to school. In 2011-2012, we had one mandatory suspension that resulted from a student with a disability grabbing a female student inappropriately. Rubalcaba: A lot of the parent involvement started because we got creative about engaging the parents. Once we purchased polo shirts for them, more and more parents volunteered to supervise. Those shirts were about $500 total but we gained thousands of dollars in free supervision. Presence prevents problems. When we reached out to parents and let them know what we were doing, they would walk around the school and talk to kids and report things to us. Huerta: The parent volunteers calculated the cost of free supervision. They provide about 7000 volunteer hours, which is worth at least $56,000. We want to keep our whole community healthy, I want as many parents here as possible. I have coffee with the parents and we brainstorm on how we can improve our school’s climate. They understand that we value their input and they continue to be our eyes and ears. There are a lot of students on this campus, what happens when two of them have a physical altercation? Or what happens if they bring drugs to school? Huerta: Once in a while, there is a verbal/physical altercation between two teenagers, but instead of suspending them; our number one goal is keeping both students on campus where they can receive the support they need to get them through their problems. Additionally, in the rare case that a student is caught with some drugs on campus, we immediately contact parents and refer them to a drug counselor in our community. Our students know that they are here to get an education, and we aren’t going to send them home on a suspension. They are instead going to stay in school and receive counseling. After all, they are our students and all of their problems are our problems; we don’t pass the buck. Former Dean of Students Aurora Mellado (Mellado): Let me give you a more specific example about the interventions that we provide that help resolve problems and address the issues instead of just suspending students. I am trained in conflict resolution, so if two students get into a fight, I separate them. I take testimony on both sides and investigate the situation. Usually, the students come clean about what the fight is about and usually, it’s about Facebook or a girlfriend/boyfriend situation. Then we come together, and I have the students talk about what they told me. U