'More consistency' to address behavior issues within Green Bay's school district

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- More consistency and better communication are just a few changes coming to the Green Bay Area Public School District.

At the school board meeting Monday night, members of the district gave a presentation talking about policy changes and behavioral enforcement.

The district's action plan takes on increased importance after a teacher resigned in front of the school board back in June.

Emotional testimony by Kerstin Westcott noted frequent problems of aggressive behavior at the middle school, including students starting fires in hallways.

That sparked outrage in the community and ignited calls for the district to add more staff and make policy changes.

The district is rolling out a multi-level system of support for behavior and one of the aspects includes a new concrete guideline of expectations when it comes to behavior within the district’s schools.

The district isn't necessarily reinventing the wheel, but rather re-enforcing it.

Green Bay Area Public School Administrators said they’ve always had guidelines for staff to follow when it comes to addressing student behavior, but it was always left open to interpretation.

Now, after many years of data and research, teachers have a more concrete document at their disposal, called ‘The Behavior Response Chart.’

“These documents are meant to be a guide, not a stead-fast book of rules or punishment. But, we do have a minimum standard set forth by the Board of Education which is we will not tolerate behaviors that put safety of staff and students at risk,” said Vicki Bayer, director of special education and pupil services for the Green Bay Area Public School District.

Within the chart (which is attached at the end of this article) there is a list of scenarios that could happen throughout the school day. If a student commits one of the offenses, the teacher has five different responses they can give, 1 being minimal and 5 being severe.

“What it does is give staff consistency in terms of having in front of them, clear knowledge of what those behaviors are that must be addressed,” said Ed Dorff, member of Green Bay Area Public School Board. “It provides a guideline for how to respond to those behaviors depending on level of seriousness and how many times the behavior has been committed.”

“If everyone is responding the same way to certain behaviors, then everyone know what to expect. The students know what to expect and the staff knows what to expect,” said Brenda Warren, president of Green Bay Area Public School Board. “The idea is that it will decrease behaviors and when that happens, the safety in the schools improves.”

Washington Middle School teacher Jennifer Ditzman has already reviewed the documents and believes they will make a difference.

“The point is this, the teachers at Washington are passionate and dedicated,” said Ditzman. “While I am sad that the safety in our school deteriorated, I am confident in the plans laid out in our district and building moving forward.”

School administrators have made two different 'behavior response charts’. One is for elementary teachers and the other is for secondary education teachers. There will also be a different set of guidelines for students will disabilities.

The school district will review the guidelines during their monthly meetings and will make changes when necessary.