“Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” - Vince Lombardi
Discipline-related issues have been a problem in Bibb County public schools for years. The District has examined these concerns extensively and one undeniable reality emerged: We have to think outside the norm when dealing with early intervention protocols, especially as it relates to at-risk students. A primary consideration is how to best address the discipline issues, while weighing the impact of changes in the District’s discipline policy to schools and students themselves. To accomplish this we have been working closely with the juvenile courts, law enforcement entities, government agencies, and other critical stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan that specifically addresses these matters.
On May 25, the District arranged to sign the Bibb County Student Offender Early Intervention Protocol Agreement as a proactive strategy to lower the number of students sent to juvenile court for minor school-based violations. This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) serves to thoughtfully provide discretionary options when dealing with certain non-felony behaviors at the school level rather than automatically referring students to juvenile court. I presented the signed agreement to Board members for review at the June Board meeting. Following this process, I am pleased to report that I have signed this important intervention protocol.
As superintendent, I am constantly looking for ways to make our schools safer while balancing the long-term consequences of dealing with certain types of student discipline infractions. Should a student who talks back to a school official or is involved in a fight have a permanent notation in his/her criminal file? These are the types of violations this MOU addresses. Naturally all incidents are considered individually, but I am satisfied this protocol agreement provides reasonable discretion when applying behavior consequences. This MOU is simply a logical and reasoned attempt to coordinate the efforts of many local agencies so that a student’s bad behavior does not tarnish what we anticipate to be a full and contributory life as an adult.
This MOU does not mean the District is becoming more tolerant of bad behavior. On the contrary, the Bibb County School District remains steadfast in having zero tolerance for disruptive behavior that threatens the safety of others or negatively impacts school operations. On the other hand, I believe there are times when we should exercise alternative forms of punishment for the overall and long-term benefit of the child. I believe this MOU is absolutely a step in the right direction for our District and the community we serve.
I would be remiss if I did not list the participating agencies that made this cooperative MOU possible:
- Bibb County School District;
- Bibb County Juvenile Court;
- District Attorney for the Macon Judicial District;
- Macon Police Department;
- Bibb County Sheriff’s Office;
- Bibb County Department of Family and Children Services;
- Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice;
- River Edge Behavioral Health Center; and
- Family Counseling Center of Central Georgia.
This multiagency initiative is a great example of how community collaboration serves the greater good for all citizens of Bibb County. I commend the efforts of each of these critical stakeholders in working together on this MOU.
Thank you for your support of the Bibb County School District.
For a complete copy of the MOU, please click here.
For a copy of the Press Release announcing the MOU signing, please click here.