On the decline: School district sees decrease in disciplinary action

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Sunday, November 30, 2014 10:13pm
  • News

Reported crimes on Kenai Peninsula Borough School District campuses are on the decline.

The Quarterly Discipline Report for the 2015 school year shows the annual number of student offenses in need of disciplinary action by administrators or city law enforcement officers has dropped. The report compared data going back to the 2008 school year.

“Across the board the pace of discipline in the schools is down,” said Assistant Superintendent Sean Dusek.

Looking at the report each quarter helps predict what the number will look like at the end of the school year, Dusek said. He said the district does not break the reports down by individual school until at least the end of the first semester.

In the first quarter, only one incident of a student under the influence of alcohol on campus was reported in the district, and if the trend continues that number will be less than 50 percent of the 2014 school year’s reports. There have been only three incidents of drug possession, which amounts to less than 10 percent of last year’s reported numbers and 25 cases of fighting were reported, which amounts to less than 25 percent of last year’s reported numbers.

Fighting, insubordination, harassment and especially tobacco use, are becoming less common, Dusek said. The only area he said was on, or above pace with previous school years is disruptive behavior.

The report also shows inappropriate computer use, profanity and use of knives are on pace with last year’s reports.

When the discipline report illuminates a consistent problem in peninsula schools such as disruptive behavior, the district can then determine the best way to address it, Dusek said.

Drug and alcohol related offenses are more frequently reported in secondary grade levels such as middle and high school, Dusek said.

Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mylnarik said offenses such as insubordination or disruptive behavior can happen at any age group. However, if two third graders have a small argument on the playground, the school will likely deal with the matter internally.

Administrators are expected to contact the police department when a student’s reported behavior is criminal, Mylnarik said.

“All crime is a crime no matter what the age,” Mylnarik said. “The police department does not determine individual school policy.

Soldotna High School Principal Todd Syverson said the district dictates how individual schools respond to on campus offenses. The school district Policy Manual guides how schools should handle issues including forgery, profanity, gambling and hazing.

This year, with the integration of Skyview High School students into the Soldotna High population, staff assumed there might be an increase in socially related incidents such as fighting or arguments, Syverson said. He said the worry was unnecessary and the students handled the transition incredibly well.

Schools may create and enforce specific rules for student behavior at events such as assemblies, Dusek said. Otherwise they must use the follow the district’s guidelines, which increase in severity depending on grade level and nature of the offense, he said.

“It would be extreme to suspend a kindergartener for even one day,” Dusek said.

Kenai’s School Resource Officer Alex Prins has worked closely with the city’s six schools for four years. He said it makes sense that the level of discipline increases as a student progresses through the system.

While crime in the schools is not prevalent it does consistently occur, Prins said. He said the issue is directly related to age, not the institution.

“It is not a school issue it is an adolescent issue,” Prins said. “They just happen to be attending a certain school.”

Kenai Central High School Principal Alan Fields said the school has seen a drop in particular areas of negative activity since he and Loren Reese current principal of Kenai Alternative High School, and then KCHS assistant principal, applied for a resource officer through the city.

Locker room thefts are almost completely unreported since Prins started teacher prevention such as locking up personal items, Fields said. He said the officer’s presence at after school activities has deterred misbehavior as well.

“I can’t remember the last time we had trouble at a dance,” Prins said.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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