(04/30/2009)
By Bob Weaver

Calhoun Middle-High School principal Karen Kirby said Tuesday the school has been making consistent progress in preventing and handling discipline problems.

Kirby acknowledged that seven students have been expelled this year for drug related and aggressive behavior problems.

"In most cases, a number of interventions have already occurred prior to the incident that results in suspension," she said.

Kirby said "We did expel a student for making dangerous threats."

"There is mandatory expulsion with the possession of a controlled substance or the possession of a firearm or deadly weapon," she continued.

Calhoun Middle-High School and the Local School Improvement Council hosted a public forum on Tuesday, focusing on discipline issues, expectations and procedures.

Although the program was widely announced, it was not attended by a single parent or guardian.

Principal Kirby gave an overview regarding the school's discipline procedure.

Kelli Whytsell, Assistant Principal and Attendance Director gave a presentation regarding data from the Respect and Protect program, which indicates a pattern of improvement at the school.

Whytsell said the Respect and Protect team meets every week to work on improving the discipline program.

Respect and Protect offers a number of positive rewards to students who do not receive BIF's (Behavior Intervention Form) including free time outside, ice cream socials, bowling, skating and other end-of-the-year rewards.

"It's important to remember that most students behave appropriately, and even the students who do have problems, they generally allow staff to reason with them," said Kirby.

Kirby said, "Compared to students in many urban schools, our problems, while serious at times, are minimal."

Discipline actions dropped from a high of 461 in 2006 to 308 in 2008. The number of students exhibiting aggressive conduct dropped from 221 in 2006 to 137 in 2008.

Kirby indicated there is a shift in drug usage from the menu of illegal drugs to the abuse of prescription and non-prescription medication.

Shari Johnson, Project Director of the local Pride Team, said "We're working on educating parents and seniors to lock-up their medications."

While there is drug abuse happening within the school at times, the Pride Survey shows that abuse happens mostly at home or with friends during evenings and weekends.


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