Schools have come a long way since the dunce cap, chalkboard shaming and paddling. But finding the most effective disciplinary tools has been a major challenge. Last year, the Lafayette Parish School System rolled out their new discipline plan. Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper says it’s working.
“We’re seeing our dropout rates go down, our graduation rates go up,” said Cooper. “We’ve gone from a “C” to a “B” school district. So, there’s a lot more pride in what’s going on.”
In order to get this plan to work, the school system amped up their teacher training, encouraging relationships with both the students and their parents. They also did away with expulsion and sending students home, where they’d fall back on academics. And now, those in trouble face in-school suspension or transferring to N.P. Moss Preparatory for either a short term or long term stay. Last school year, 450 students attended N.P. Moss
“We had about 250 of those return to their regular schools and only six of them came back to N. P. Moss,” said Cooper. “So, recidivism rate was really small, less than 3%.”
If the program at N.P. Moss doesn’t work for a particular student, Cooper says the last resort is the American Marine Institute—a type of boot camp. But he says that’s very rare and he expects discipline rates to improve even more this school year. Overall, he says, it sends a positive message.
“One of the things that we’re showing our children and young adults is that we love you enough to keep you, as opposed to try and find a way to get rid of you,” said Cooper.