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Lawrence school board to hear behavior and restorative practice update, consider ratifying classified staff contract and more

Article updated to add another chart at 6:07 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24:

The Lawrence school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25 at 110 McDonald Drive. Masks are required due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key points the board will:

Hear a report on the Safe and Supportive Schools goals within the district’s strategic plan.

Context: Several administrators will provide an update about the first quarter of the school year. Topics include behavior data, equity and inclusion, culturally sustainable resource criteria, Native American Student Services, mental health and social-emotional learning, trauma responsive classrooms and restorative practices.

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The agenda packet includes 70 presentation slides. Behavior data for the first nine weeks of school shows the highest number of behavior incidents occurring at district middle and high schools and involving white students — who constitute about 65.6% of students in the district — as shown in the charts below.

Screenshot/USD 497 Behavior data for the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year in Lawrence Public Schools

Screenshot/USD 497 Behavior data by race for the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year in Lawrence Public Schools

The Lawrence Times chart below shows student demographics compared to the percentage of behavioral incidents, as provided by the school board’s Sept. 27 and Oct. 25 meeting agendas.

Restorative practices focus on relationship building and community to prevent and address conflicts and negative behaviors. Restorative practices are new to district high schools this school year. 

Statistics shown in the report include comparisons by race of incidents where restorative practices versus non-restorative practices were used to address problem behaviors.

The report shows that in most secondary schools, educators use restorative practices more than non-restorative practices among most racial groups. A notable exception shown in the data occurs at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, where non-restorative practices outnumber restorative practices for white students 37 to 20.

Screenshot USD 497 Data involving behavior incidents where restorative practices versus non-restorative practices were implemented during the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year in Lawrence Public Schools’ middle schools

Screenshot/USD 497 Data involving behavior incidents where restorative practices versus non-restorative practices were implemented during the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year in Lawrence Public Schools’ high schools

Advisory and community groups have advocated for the use of restorative practices in the classroom over exclusionary discipline such as out-of-school suspensions. Some offenses, including attending a school function or class under the influence or in possession of illegal drugs or alcohol, will likely result in a suspension.

In elementary schools, where restorative practices have not yet been implemented, suspension data shows of the 21 out-of-school suspensions this year, the longest was three days. Most fell in the one-day range and were among students categorized as white or Hispanic, as shown below.

Screenshot/USD 497 Behavior data resulting in out-of-school suspensions for the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year in Lawrence Public Schools

Vote on ratifying the tentative contract agreement for hourly workers reached between the district and Personnel Association of Lawrence – Communications Workers of America.

Context: In June, the school board voted unanimously to formally recognize PAL-CWA as the bargaining unit for classified employees. Negotiating teams for PAL-CWA and the school district came to a tentative agreement, and union membership approved it Oct. 20.

If approved, it’s the union’s first contract on behalf of hourly employees such as paraprofessionals, custodians, secretaries, electricians, and maintenance and food service workers. Sixteen meetings were held during negotiations, according to information in the agenda packet.

The agreement would include the existing terms and conditions of employment from the district’s Classified Handbook and the Lawrence Education Association’s Master Agreement with educators, which the board approved in July. Additions would include the formation of a joint labor-management committee, a grievance procedure, professional development and leave time for union leaders to conduct union business.


Vote on disbursing net proceeds from the sale of the Lawrence High School basketball court floor memorabilia fundraiser among 27 teams and activities, including student council. 

• ↪ Context: During the board’s Sept. 13 meeting, board members raised concerns about equity and Title IX concerns should the entirety of the funds raised go to the LHS boys basketball team as originally proposed. 

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The board asked LHS administrators to return with a revised proposal in compliance with the district’s equity policies and federal Title IX requirements. If approved, the district will distribute approximately $6,500 equally among 27 groups, or about $250 per program.

The classified union contract and LHS fundraiser will be considered as part of the consent agenda along with other items unless a board member or the superintendent requests an item be removed and voted on separately.


• Meet in executive session — meaning privately — to discuss the evaluation of  Superintendent Anthony Lewis.

Context: The board conducts an annual evaluation of Lewis, plus quarterly check-ins with Lewis, as board member Kelly Jones explained during a board candidate forum Oct. 9.


Find the full board meeting agenda and related documents here.

Watch the live board meeting via livestream here or tune in to Midco Channel 26 at 6 p.m. Monday. To sign up to share public comments in person or via WebEx, email publiccomment@usd497.org before 6 p.m. Monday. Patrons will receive a link to join the videoconference by phone or video conferencing.

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— Tricia Masenthin (she/her), reporter, can be reached via email at tmasenthin (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com.

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