Be There: New program designed to decrease school suspensions

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A new program designed to zap bad behavior is underway in Muscogee County. More than 19,000 school systems across the US are already using it.

Our Roslyn Giles visited the school district for this week's "Be There" A Muscogee County Schools WTVM teaching moment.

Disruptive behavior in school can be detrimental to teachers, school cultures and ultimately student learning.

"We know that we have an increased number of suspensions across the district specifically with black males," explained Valerie Fuller, Director of Communications for Muscogee County Schools.

To combat the problem, the district is implementing PBIS also known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

The Georgia Department of Education was on site Wednesday providing PBIS training and support to the MCSD Leadership Team and principals.

PBIS is evidence-based, data driven framework proven to reduce disciplinary incidents, increase a school's sense of safety, improve school climate, and support improved academic outcomes for all students.

"The referral rate and actually putting the students out of the classroom--that's one of things I'm going to focus on at my school because obviously if we keep the students in school, we can increase the academics with our students," recalled Michael Davis, MLK Elementary School principal.

An MCSD graph shows the percentage of students with one or more out -of-school suspensions. The numbers dropped last year to 5. 3 percent compared to the year before at 6.1 percent.

"On an individual basis, I am really hoping that we can start fostering that sense of personal responsibility and replacing the negative behaviors with positive behaviors that will transfer into a more safe environment for all students in the schools," stated Superintendent David Lewis.

The program will be introduced as a pilot next school year.

Georgia Appleseed, a child advocacy program, has donated $18,000 for the program.

Eleven schools can implement the program next year. The district is hoping to add PBIS to more elementary, middle and high schools as funds become available.

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