October 21, 2020

School children in trouble may have to give back to community instead of getting out of class

Oxford School District administrators who must take disciplinary action towards a student will have a new option beginning this year.

Community Service is being added to OSD’s Code of Conduct, starting with the 2019-2020 school year.

The district’s Board of Trustees reviewed the updated Code of Conduct during Monday’s monthly board meeting. They will vote to adopt it during next month’s meeting. Keeping students from missing school days while also disciplining them for violations of the Code of Conduct is the main purpose of adding community service, according to Bradley Roberson, Oxford’s assistant superintendent.

“Students that typically have disciplinary issues also struggle academically and what we’ve found is we’re doing nothing but compounding the academic problems by taking them out of class,” Roberson said. “We were trying to think of creative ways that, obviously they can serve the consequences of their actions, but we’re able to keep them in class so they don’t fall behind even further academically.”

The addition of community service was added to several offenses in the school’s policy, including theft, disturbances and smoking, among others. If the Board approves the addition, school administrators will have the option of having a student spend a Saturday morning working on a community service project instead of serving out-of-school or in-school suspension.

Roberson and Oxford superintendent Brian Harvey began discussing community service as an option several months ago with the idea of trying to align everything they do within the district to their Portrait of a Graduate initiative, which was adopted by the Board last July.

“A couple of the characteristics of A Portrait of a Graduate that community members want to see out of OHS graduates are personal responsibility and they also want them to have active citizenship,” Roberson said. “So, what better way for us to insert some personal responsibility and citizenship than offering community service.”

A coordinator from the school district will work with community organizations to set up times for students to set up community service. Nothing has been finalized yet, and Roberson also clarified the options of out-of or in-school suspensions are not being removed from the code of conduct policy.

“There are times that those will have to be utilized,” Roberson said of the suspension options. “But now community (service) is at the principal’s discretion to utilize as well.”