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Tripp-Delmont discipline referrals, missing assignments declining

TRIPP -- Discipline referrals are on the decline in the Tripp-Delmont School District. According to Superintendent Gail Swenson, in 2014-2015, her first year with the district, there were 201 discipline referrals in grades 7-12. And, in 2015-2016...

TRIPP - Discipline referrals are on the decline in the Tripp-Delmont School District.

According to Superintendent Gail Swenson, in 2014-2015, her first year with the district, there were 201 discipline referrals in grades 7-12. And, in 2015-2016, there were 125. So far this school year, Swenson said there have been only three discipline referrals.

The difference, Swenson said, is that the district is being more frank about its behavior policies, letting students know in advance what the consequences are for certain negative actions.

"If students know the rules and everything is clear ... like any of us, if we know the rules, we know how to play the game," Swenson said. "I think, in a sense, we've kind of walked our talk. We lay it out very clear, if this happens, these are the consequences, so they know instead of waiting until something happens."

The decline in referrals came over time, but that's no surprise, Swenson said.

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Often, she said, it takes proving to students, like anybody, that the administration is serious about its discipline policy, and will follow through on issuing consequences.

And Swenson said the drop in referrals speaks volumes about the students enrolled in the school, who, through their actions, set a positive example for the younger students.

"If the younger kids see the older students running through the halls or whatever, the little kids are going to emulate that. Everything those big kids do, those little kids want to be just like them," Swenson said. "But our older kids aren't like that."

And the good news doesn't stop there for Tripp-Delmont.

In 2014, the district implemented an ICU program - which, like in medical terms, stands for "Intensive Care Unit."

The program is designed for teachers, parents and students to track missing assignments. If a student in grades 7-12 has an assignment missing in any class, that student's name is added to the ICU list, and a student with five or more missing assignments is required to spend the lunch or agriculture class periods working on the stray assignment. Parents are notified when their child is placed on the ICU list by email or text message.

ICU sessions are held Tuesdays through Fridays during the school year.

This school year, 243 assignments have been completed during ICU sessions, or 75 percent of all missing assignments, Swenson said.

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"Our goal was for every student to complete every assignment," Swenson said. "You know what they say, if you shoot for the moon, you might hit a few stars, I guess. We set our expectations high and I think we're doing pretty well this year."

Three teachers are available during ICU time each day, and they are assigned on a rotating schedule, so all are involved at some point. The teachers often are working with students one-on-one or two students per teacher.

During the 2015-16 school year, Swenson said there were between 12-18 students on average in ICU, whereas this year, the average is approximately six students.

Elementary teachers have their own version of ICU with the same concepts, but they hold it "on their own terms," Swenson said. Elementary students can come in before or after school, or stay in during recess, depending on the situation and what works for the student and parents.

The results have garnered positive responses across the Tripp-Delmont School District, and that is a testament to the staff and families in the area, according to Swenson.

"We have good students, good families and good support," she said. "It just adds to the atmosphere that we have here, that we're a good school."

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