Over the last three years, the district has heard from many teachers and school staff about the need for greater clarity on appropriate student behaviors, supporting students in being their best selves, determining effective actions when students do not live up to our norms. I am pleased that after a collaborative process that included input from teachers, staff, and families, the Brookline School Committee approved the district’s new Code of Conduct policy in January. This policy went into effect on July 1, 2019.
Our new Code of Conduct policy is a shift from previous discipline policies. It emphasizes relationship and community building, restorative practices, and progressive responses. Knowing students well, having strong relationships with them, and engaging instruction are the key components of a healthy school community. In addition, responses to student behavior should operate within a framework of interventions and consequences that build in intensity proportional to any transgressions. This new direction was shaped through feedback from staff and family surveys and listening sessions with staff and administrators.
To help teachers and school staff have clearer guidelines when addressing student behavior the policy contains two resources. On page 13, there is a list of tiered interventions based upon the framework of progressive responses. It is our belief that intervention is most effective when the educator working most directly with the student intervenes in the way they believe will most effectively support the student. The next resource is the Behavior Matrix, which can be found on page 15. The Matrix is a guide for teachers and administrators in determining the appropriate level of intervention. We hope these two resources provide more clarity when working with students.
Over the next school year, all schools will implement the new policy. All staff will have opportunities to participate in training sessions before and during the school year. We want to ensure all staff are set up for success as they familiarize themselves with the shifts in the new policy and procedures.
We are proud of the many perspectives and collaborative work that went into creating the new Code of Conduct and the important shift towards a framework that combines relationship and community building, skill building, and progressive responses.
If you would like to review the Code of Conduct Policy, you can find it on the School Committee Policy manual webpage.
Deputy Suprintendent of Student Services