Fewer disciplinary actions have been taken against students at Columbus high schools, with the biggest declines seen at Columbus East High School.
The data, included in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. 2016 annual performance report, published last week, indicates that Columbus East has seen out-of-school suspensions drop each of the past two years.
Columbus East had 267 out-of-school suspensions during the 2013-14 school year, followed by 218 the next year and 115 during the most recent reporting period, the 2015-16 school year, according to the report.
That’s a 57 percent reduction at Columbus East in two years time.
Story continues below gallery
The pace of change hasn’t been as significant at Columbus North, which has had fewer out-of-school suspensions: 143 in the 2013-14 school year, following by 119 the next school and 121 in the most recent school year, 2015-16, data indicates.
Columbus North’s rate has dropped 15 percent during the same time frame.
BCSC officials are pointing to the district’s Positive Behavior Instructional Supports, or PBIS, approach being used across the district as one contribu- ting factor.
PBIS is meant to prevent disciplinary problems and respond to those which do occur in a proactive way, said Tina Greene, Universal Design for Learning coordinator for BCSC.
Expectations for high school students at East — which are discussed at the beginning of the school year — are to take care of themselves, each other and the school, Greene said.
The PBIS initiative helps reinforce those expectations so students are able to make good decisions, she said.
Columbus East reviews its disciplinary statistics each month with a particular focus on student behavior, said assistant principal Charles Edwards, who serves on the school’s PBIS committee.
“We do have expectations that are set at a global and building level,” Edwards said.
The number of in-school suspensions also has been trending downward.
Columbus East issued 565 in-school suspensions during the 2014-15 school year, which dropped to 347 last year.
Columbus North’s in-school suspensions dropped from 274 during the 2014-15 school year to 267 last year.
Edwards said that while he is encouraged that the disciplinary statistics have decreased, he said that won’t necessarily always be the case.
“Numbers are cyclical,” Edwards said. “For the most part, discipline is progressive.”
Fighting, breaking the law or causing an unsafe environment are among the primary reasons a student could be suspended, Columbus East principal Mark Newell said.
He said it’s important to provide support to students that they need.
“You have to separate the behavior from the student,” Newell said.
Columbus Police Department school resource officer Julie Quesenbery is a visible presence at Columbus East, one of nine schools where she has responsibilities. Quesenbery said many of her daily interactions with students are positive.
“I try to be approachable and have conversations and let them know what my intentions are here,” she said.
The number of students at East and North who were expelled or suspended due to drugs, weapons or alcohol have also been on the decline.
Presentations are made to high school students on topics such as domestic violence and drugs, Quesenbery said.
“We’re very clear on how we handle those types of things,” she said.
But some individuals occasionally make mistakes, she said.
“They’re moldable and we can change their behavior,” she said. “Kids want to be good, but they’re a product of their environment.”