LAFAYETTE — The overall number of discipline infractions, including fights, on Lafayette Parish school system campuses this school year is lower compared with numbers from the first six weeks of classes last year, a district official said Friday.
Compared to the same period last year, “we had almost 300 less referrals and 310 less removals from campuses,” Brandi Gonzales, district supervisor of child welfare and attendance.
There were also 77 fewer students disciplined for fighting — instigating or participating in fights — in the first six weeks this school year compared with the same period last school year, Gonzales said.
On Wednesday, Gonzales told the School Board that the number of fights so far this year — 250 — was higher than last year. Gonzales, Superintendent Pat Cooper and other Central Office supervisors on Friday provided updated discipline data to reporters from The Advocate and The Daily Advertiser.
Within the first six weeks of school last year, 403 students were sent home for behavior issues, and so far this year, 50 students received out-of-school suspensions, Gonzales said.
The board requested Gonzales’ report in light of discipline policy changes before the start of the school year.
The policy change gave school administrators more flexibility in disciplining students. It also eliminated sending students home as an option for bad behavior. Now, disciplined students will attend N.P. Moss Preparatory School.
The change will not come without “growing pains,” but “we made a decision to keep these kids in school and not on the street,” Cooper said.
“The main thing is the system is working. We’re doing a service to the community by not putting (students) on the street,” Cooper said.
In other news Friday, Central Office staff also gave an update on a bus accident Thursday at Lafayette High in which a student was injured.
The student did not need surgery as reported Thursday and remains in stable condition, school officials said.
The student was struck as she was running after the bus, said Bill Samec, district transportation director.
Samec said bus protocols at the school are under review and bus drivers have also been asked to submit their concerns about the positioning of pick-up and drop-off points on campus. The school sits on the corner of Foreman Drive and Congress Street, a heavy traffic area.
About three years ago, modifications were made to help ease traffic along Congress by creating another bus area behind the main building and using the front driveway only for buses exiting the school by a right turn onto Congress.
“Lafayette High has been a work in progress,” he said.
Meanwhile, a crisis counseling team was deployed to the school for those students on the bus who witnessed the accident, as well as the injured student’s classmates, said Bradley Cruice, the district’s health and wellness supervisor.